The draft is done. Rookie minicamps are under way. And teams are counting down the days to the start of their annual summer camps. That can only mean one thing: Football season is almost here again. And with kickoff of the 2015 – 2016 NFL season inching closer each day, ESPN has announced another addition to its broadcast coverage schedule.
ESPN announced today that it will once again air at least one of the league’s Wildcard Playoff games this season. The game, which will be played on the weekend of January 9th – 10th, 2016, will be simulcast on ABC for the first time ever along with the network’s weekly pre-game show Monday Night Countdown. The upcoming broadcast will mark only the second time that the worldwide leader in sports has aired an NFL playoff game in its thirty-six year history. The Carolina Panthers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27 – 16 last season in the network’s first ever playoff broadcast. The game averaged a 12.5 household US rating and 21,678,000 viewers (P2+) according to Nielsen research. That made the game the ninth most-viewed broadcast in cable history.
ESPN President John Skipper noted its success in making the announcement about the upcoming game. “Our first Wild Card playoff game was one of ESPN’s highest-rated and most-watched events ever,” he said. He also noted his expectations for a similar result for the game’s first time ever simulcast on ABC stating, “By leveraging the broadcast platform we have on ABC, the upcoming Wild Card will rank among the most-watched programs of the year and we will reach even more fans during the NFL postseason.”
ESPN’s MNF broadcast team of Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, and Lisa Salters will have full coverage of the game. They will also be live at the league’s annual Pro Bowl game at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Pro Bowl is currently scheduled to be played January 24th, 2016.
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