NFL, ESPN relationship hits a low point

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With ESPN only three years away from the final year of its Monday Night Football contract, there’s a palpable sense that a relationship dating back to 1987 could be ending.

That’s the takeaway from an article by John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal, who outlines the issues between the NFL and Bristol.

League executives complained about the atmosphere between the NFL and ESPN. “In particular,” Ourand writes, “they pointed to stories on ESPN.com and Outside the Lines that they felt went out of their way to portray the NFL in a bad light.”

ESPN consistently has complained about the quality of its schedule, which the NFL has regarded as something lesser than a FOX/CBS/NBC package because of the more limited audience on cable.

New ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro will be trying to repair the relationship, but it sounds like ESPN has some leverage as 2020 approaches. As noted by Ourand, ESPN has removed language from affiliate deals that essentially required ESPN to keep the NFL in order to maintain its fee from cable and satellite provides. That dynamic has emboldened ESPN executives, contributing to a current climate that has included ESPN ditching its Super Bowl party.

More recently, ESPN has been miffed by the decision to simulcast NFL Network’s coverage of the draft on FOX and by the looming loss of ESPN’s wild-card playoff game. The bigger question is whether ESPN and NFL can sufficiently repair the fissure in the hopes of laying the foundation for a new deal for Monday Night Football. If not, one of the other cable or broadcast networks could acquire the package, freezing ESPN out for at least 2021 — and possibly for a lot longer than that.

31 responses to “NFL, ESPN relationship hits a low point

  1. ESPN is garbage. They push their political views down your throat. I haven’t watched ESPN in years and it’s been great. Do you go to MTV for music? Same reason you shouldn’t go to ESPN for sports……its garbage.

  2. I never watch ESPN anymore and find myself watching NFL Network way more anyways. ESPN cares too much about big markets and controversy instead covering sports…my get away from controversy and politics is sports and ESPN is awful at it.

  3. ESPN is dying, and in the search of controversy they played up anything and everything for their benefit, not the NFL’s.

    Not every basic cable channel gets $9 a month. It’s the only premium channel included with basic cable, and they can’t make it work.

    ESPN and the NFL have trouble ahead. A rising tide lifts all boats, but when the money stops rising, the claws will come out.

    ESPN is feeling the pinch earlier, and by 2021 we’ll see how many tens of millions of homes no longer have ESPN.

  4. Has their relationship hit the same low point that ESPN reported BB TB12 and Robert Kraft hit? A bit amusing if nothing else.

  5. I miss the simpler times.

    You got up and watched ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown.

    There was a BIG game at 1:00. Not like now where the 1:00 P.M window generally stinks. Consider in 2003, Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, 11/30/03, 9-2 Pats vs 9-2 Colts was at 1:00!
    Then, for me at least, I had interest in the late window because the Chargers generally played then.

    Then you went home and watched NFL PRIMETIME! I sure do miss that show.

    ESPN and the NFL were great once.

  6. A battle between two huge entities that I sit here wishing they could both lose.

    That said, the NFL would live on without ESPN. ESPN will shrivel up and die without the NFL. They’ll become FSN.

  7. “they pointed to stories on ESPN.com and Outside the Lines that they felt went out of their way to portray the NFL in a bad light.””

    So instead of telling lies about players/teams Goodell and his cronies want to frame and portray in a bad light, they’re doing so about players/teams the league usually shields from such things?

  8. Uh oh! Trouble with the Frame Job Specialists!

    ESPN has lost so much revenue, it’s now tied to the NFL’s, after the NFL and ESPN were caught lying together in court over Framegate II.

    And, now, here comes the finger pointing. The cheaters at Park Ave with the owners involved in this, along with ESPN and them continuing to smear the Pats, all deserve one another.

  9. .
    If you eliminate ESPN, then you have to listen to MNF on radio. That’s the only downside. And actually, listening on radio gives you a unique football experience.
    .

  10. Put MNF on the Home Shopping Network or QVC and I’d watch again. Anything ESPN is involved in, no thanks. Like punkrock21 said, my OTA Rabbit Ear Antennas worked great this past year, cut the cord in 2011 and LOVE the savings month in and month out.

  11. “they pointed to stories on ESPN.com and Outside the Lines that they felt went out of their way to portray the NFL in a bad light.”

    —–

    nobody needs to go out of their way in order to do that.

  12. 6ball says:
    If you eliminate ESPN, then you have to listen to MNF on radio. That’s the only downside. And actually, listening on radio gives you a unique football experience.
    – – – – – – – – – –
    That is exactly what I do. Kevin Harlan is an outstanding play by play guy for Westwood One.

  13. ESPN has ruined its own product to the point where other alternatives will be attractive to the NFL. What business can thrive if they go out of their way to alienate politically half of their subscribers?
    ESPN needs the NFL but the NFL does not need ESPN.

  14. sbmcintosh36 says:
    March 12, 2018 at 12:26 pm
    Maybe if they put Michael and Jemele in the booth that would fix everything…..
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________

    I would sooner listen to the Kars4Kids Jingle in an infinite loop before I would listen to Michael and Jemele.

  15. Cable and even Dish is Dying! Don’t they get it? I cut the cable 3 years ago and say my channels go up to about 30, and that is nearly where my Dish was, without the 15 shopping channels and paid program channels plus the idiotic political channels. I have several Movie channels and am saving about 60 bucks a month, and getting BETTER programming!
    There are free and cheap streaming services to pick up every other show I like.
    I haven’t watched an ESPN game for 3 years and don’t miss them. I’ll say this to the greedy corporate Dinosaurs
    Welcome to today’s America! My cable and internet bill was $200.00 a year, did shopping and now my internet and phone are about $90.00

  16. burtmustin says:

    March 12, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    sbmcintosh36 says:
    March 12, 2018 at 12:26 pm
    Maybe if they put Michael and Jemele in the booth that would fix everything…..
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________

    I would sooner listen to the Kars4Kids Jingle in an infinite loop before I would listen to Michael and Jemele.
    ———————————————-
    Or Walmart’s “Ring my Bell.” Kind of goes better with the NFL anyway.

  17. ESPN … The PR branch of the NFL. With cable become less and less popular ESPN shoudl realize the writing is on the wall and just be happy they can still be the NFL sniff jockeys.

  18. Well, to be honest, it isn’t difficult to make the NFL look bad. All you have to do is look at the news of players constantly in trouble (mainly a few bad apples who are getting arrested over and over). You can also look at the farce that is the NFL disciplinary actions. The league office is a joke. So are some teams…namely the Cowboys and Bengals who seem to enjoy finding the lowest character players to play for them.

    People are sick of EPSN too. I used to watch it quite a bit but can’t stand to watch it anymore because of all the garbage they broadcast. They got rid of most of their best talent and filled them in with people who they thought would appeal to a younger audience. Their shows have deteriorated to the point they are pathetic.

    The ironic thing is they are both a mess. They deserve each other.

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