ABC is adding ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” games to its prime-time schedule because the ongoing dual entertainment industry strike will delay new scripted programming until next year.
Games are usually broadcast only on ESPN’s cable channels, with occasional simulcasts and exclusive games on ABC, as both networks are owned by The Walt Disney Company.
But with no new programming to serve up, ABC will carry one NFL Monday game per week throughout the rest of the season.
A representative for ESPN confirmed the programming move.
According to people familiar with the negotiations, ABC executives requested the additional games because even if the strike ended soon, episodes of the new series would not be available until next year.
Production of new TV episodes has been halted since the spring due to the Writers Guild of America going on strike on May 2. SAG-AFTRA representatives joined the picket line on July 14.
Both guilds are seeking improved residual payments, greater transparency regarding streaming audience data and protection against the use of artificial intelligence.
The WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios and streamers, are set to resume bargaining on Wednesday.
Broadcast networks are feeling the effects of the strike the most, as they typically launch new programming in the fall. With no new sitcoms or dramas available, they rely mainly on game shows, reality series and live sports to fill their prime-time schedules.
ABC had four exclusive games scheduled, including Monday’s Cleveland Browns-Pittsburgh Steelers contest that will conclude the NFL’s second week. The network also has exclusive games on October 2, December 11 and December 25
ABC will simulcast ESPN games each week between October 8 and December 4, as well as December 18, December 30 and January 6. These games can be seen on KABC Channel 7 in Los without a cable or satellite TV subscription. Angeles and other ABC stations with an over-the-air antenna.
“Monday Night Football” has been an ABC staple for decades. As increased rights fees made the games too expensive to support with over-the-air advertising-supported TV, the games moved to ESPN in 2006, as its networks also received revenue from pay TV operators. (Disney now also receives fees for pay TV carriage of its ABC stations.)
ABC also carries NFL Wild Card playoff games that are scheduled on ESPN.