The NFL has announced that ESPN will broadcast a Wild Card playoff game during the 2014 season, the first NFL playoff game in the company's 35-year history. The game will air during the Wild Card Playoff Weekend in January 2015.
The NFL and ESPN reached a new eight-year extension in 2011 for Monday Night Football and broad studio, multimedia and international rights. The agreement - which began this spring and extends through the 2021 NFL season - provides the NFL with an option to air a postseason Wild Card playoff game on ESPN, which the NFL has opted to exercise this season.
"We're thrilled to televise our first Wild Card playoff game and we thank the NFL for the opportunity," said ESPN President John Skipper. "This game will be among the highest-rated programs of the year on cable and it is compelling content that will help us better serve football fans during the postseason."
ESPN's MNF team of Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and sideline reporter Lisa Salters will call the Wild Card game, as well as the 2015 NFL Pro Bowl (Jan. 25, 2015) at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, which returns to ESPN this season as part of the company's new rights agreement.
Last year, the Cincinnati Bengals' lone appearance on ESPN in the regular season saw them defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 20-10.