Report: ABC to Rejoin Super Bowl Broadcast Rotation for 1st Time Since 2006

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2021

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates winning the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Jason Behnken/Associated Press

ABC is reportedly set to rejoin the Super Bowl broadcast rotation after its parent company, Disney, and the NFL agreed to a new media rights deal.

According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, the new agreement will return ABC to the Super Bowl rotation along with NBC, CBS and Fox for the first time since 2006.

The agreement also marks the Disney's renewal of its rights for Monday Night Football, which has aired on ESPN since the 2006 season after airing on ABC from 1970-2005.

However, Brian McCarthy of the NFL public relations department said a deal is not in place yet, per Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

Ourand noted that Disney is expected to pay 30 percent more than its previous deal with the NFL, bringing it from $2 billion per year to about $2.6 billion. That is a smaller increase than NBC, CBS and Fox, which will reportedly all pay double their previous contracts.

Along with retaining MNF and entering the Super Bowl rotation, ESPN maintained NFL highlight rights, and a yet-to-be-determined number of regular-season games will be simulcast on ABC.

Per Ourand, no contract has been signed between Disney and the NFL, but a deal is "very close at hand," meaning the NFL will have re-upped with each of its four major television partners.

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The last Super Bowl to air on ABC was Super Bowl XL between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 5, 2006. The Steelers won the game 21-10, and wide receiver Hines Ward was named MVP.

Meanwhile, Monday Night Football has undergone some significant changes in recent years, especially in the broadcast booth.

Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick were the announcers last year after Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland and Jason Witten called the games in 2018, followed by only Tessitore and McFarland in 2019.

MNF ratings have been on the decline as well, as they dropped 3 percent in 2021 compared to the previous season, per Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated.

That was actually less of a drop than any of the other networks, though, as CBS Sunday afternoon games were down 4 percent, Fox Sunday afternoon and Fox Thursday night games were down 6 percent and NBC Sunday Night Football games were down 16 percent.