'Monday Night Football' staying on ESPN through 2021

monday-night-football-espn.jpgThe National Football League and its players have a new 10-year contract in place to start this season -- and now they have a fat new TV deal, the first of several likely to be reached in the near future.

ESPN has extended its agreement to air "Monday Night Football" in a deal worth a reported $15 billion. The deal includes the cable channel keeping rights to "MNF" through the 2021 season, an expansion of in-studio programming (including two new shows launching next week), rights to air the Pro Bowl, 3-D distribution and international rights in about 30 million homes worldwide. ESPN will also continue to cover the NFL draft, which it's had on-air since 1980.

"Today, we've secured cable's most valuable television franchise, along with an enhanced international package of year-round multimedia rights," ESPN president George Bodenheimer says in a statement. "It will help grow our business well into the next decade."

As part of the deal, ESPN's pre-game show "Sunday NFL Countdown" will expand to three hours starting Sunday (Sept. 11), and the daily "NFL Live" will go from 30 minutes to an hour starting Thursday. A pair of new shows, "NFL 32" and "NFL Kickoff," will debut on Sept. 13 and Sept. 16, and the fan-driven show "Audibles" will become a weekly show airing Thursday nights.

The NFL's contracts with CBS, FOX and NBC expire after the 2013 season. Between now and then we can expect to see additional multibillion-dollar deals to keep football on broadcast TV get done.
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