9:28am PT by Rick Porter
ESPN to Offer NFL Playoff Game on Freeform
The NFL is coming to the home of The Bold Type.
As part of a "megacast" of a wild-card playoff game in January, ESPN will produce a version of the telecast for Freeform, Disney's cable network targeted at young women. The game will also air on ESPN, ABC, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
Additionally, ABC will simulcast two Monday Night Football games in December, following strong returns for a game it shared with ESPN in September.
The wild-card game will air on Jan. 9 or 10. ESPN and ABC will carry the traditional broadcast of the contest, with the MNF team of Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Louis Riddick, Lisa Salters and John Parry providing commentary. ESPN Deportes will cary the game in Spanish.
ESPN2 and Freeform will have different presentations of the game. In past mega-casts, ESPN2 has featured looser commentary from its group of NFL analysts and experts. The Freeform telecast will likely be geared toward more casual fans.
The addition of Freeform to ESPN's playoff plans follows a similar move by CBS, which will simulcast one of its wild card games on Nickelodeon, with commentary geared toward younger viewers. (NBC Sports will also stream a wild card game on Peacock that weekend.) The additional outlets are designed to introduce potential new fans to the NFL.
As for the Monday Night Football simulcasts, ABC and ESPN will both air games on Dec. 7 (Buffalo Bills vs. San Francisco 49ers) and Dec. 28 (Bills-New England Patriots). The two corporate siblings' shared broadcast of the Sept. 21 game, which marked the franchise's 50th anniversary, drew 15.44 million viewers, the biggest Monday audience of the season so far.