Hours before the N.F.L.
season was to begin Thursday, ESPN
demonstrated what “Monday Night Football” means to the cable empire by renewing it for nearly $15.2 billion through 2021, according to a person briefed on the details.
The eight-year extension is to be announced at 11 a.m. Eastern time by Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the N.F.L., and George Bodenheimer, the head of ESPN.
At $1.9 billion a year, ESPN will be paying 73 percent more than the $1.1 billion a year it has been spending for “Monday Night.” ESPN began carrying Monday night games in 2006 when its previous package of Sunday night games moved to NBC.
But when ESPN made that deal, which will expire in 2013, it received no playoff games and no chance of carrying a Super Bowl
. All it had were the rights to carry 17 regular-season games a year. It is not yet known if ESPN will get a playoff game or under what conditions it would be able to do so in the coming years.
But the agreement will allow it to further secure its role as the cable channel with more N.F.L. content than any other except for the NFL Network. Under the contract, ESPN will add 500 new hours of league-branded studio shows almost immediately, including a third hour to the Sunday program, “NFL Countdown.”
The daily “NFL Live “will expand from a half-hour to 60 minutes.
The deal also let ESPN stream its N.F.L. programming to Verizon cellphones.