12.19.06

Worldwide Leader Buys A Piece Of The AFL

Posted in Gridiron, Sports TV at 1:13 pm by

Whether you’d call it a preemptive strike against Comcast’s Versus channel, or just a great way for ex-Saints QB Adrian McPherson to get some publicity for something other than being run over by a giant racoonESPN has purchased a minority share in the Arena Football League.

ESPN will televise a minimum of 17 regular-season games and nine playoff games — including a minimum three wild-card games, three divisional playoff games, both conference championships and the Arena Bowl — on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.

ESPN will also have an exclusive window for weekly Monday night primetime games on ESPN2 — continuing to establish Monday night as a “football night” for fans.

Sadly for MacPherson and Austin Wranglers part-owner Deion Sanders, there’s no flexible scheduling happening here.  ESPN’s already announced their 2007 broadcast schedule, and the Wranglers are nowhere to be found.

Given Disney’s history of sports ownership, I’ll just refute in advance any rumors that Mo Vaughn will be serving as a player/coach/studio host/fitness instructor.

3 Responses to “Worldwide Leader Buys A Piece Of The AFL”

  1. jason says:

    What’s the over/under on the first “Arena Football gets better ratings than hockey” story?

  2. GC says:

    surely that’s already happened.

    I think the AFL’s numbers on Versus and FSN were pretty shitty last year. And this will not be the first time ESPN has shown Arena football. But I’ll assume if they have a piece of the action, not only will the AFL benefit from their promotional expertise, but they’ll actually cover the games as though they’re legit news.

    And this does have something to do with hockey, I imagine. As ESPN is a NASCAR rights holder next year, and ESPN/ABC are paying money to the MLS (instead of the other way around) going forward, adding indoor football to the mix probably means even less airtime for NHL news or highlights in the near future.

    Though I can’t begrudge the fact there’s no longer an offseason where football is concerned in America, it can occasionally be a drag for those of us who enjoy more than one sport. It’s like living in a Joe Benigno Universe sometimes.

  3. jason says:

    Oh yeah, it’s already happened it’ll just happen more. There have actually been Stanley Cup Finals games that didn’t even do XFL numbers.

    FWIW John Buccigross claimed in his Monday column that Sportscenter’s frequency and prominence of NHL highlights has been unchanged by not being a rights-holder.

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