Why are there two NFL games tonight? History of ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ Doubleheader and a New Twist in 2022

ESPN continues its two-week “Monday Night Football” experiment into 2022, which has yielded spectacular results so far.

For the second time since the network acquired the “MNF” rights in 2006, ESPN did not air a doubleheader in Week 1, instead breaking it out for Week 2 of this year. It was a multi-faceted decision, including the debut of a former Fox broadcast team and a massive Week 1 game that didn’t have to share the stage with another broadcast.

And so ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” doubleheader will take place in Week 2, when Derrick Henry and the Titans take on Josh Allen and the Bills in Buffalo and Jalen Hurts tries to lead the Eagles to victory over Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson and the Vikings in Philadelphia.

With that, The Sporting News News breaks down the rationale for postponing the doubleheader to week 2, as well as the history of ESPN’s “MNF” broadcast:

LIVE: Follow Titans vs. Bills on ‘Monday Night Football’

LIVE: Follow Vikings vs. Eagles on ‘Monday Night Football’

Why are there two ‘MNF’ games tonight?

ESPN has created a tradition of week 1 Monday night doubleheaders, dating back to the network’s acquisition of “Monday Night Football” broadcasts in 2006. However, the network chose to postpone the choice of doubleheader until week 2 in 2022. Why ?

Part of the reason, as noted by Sports Illustrated, is that ESPN wanted to highlight its new $165 million Week 1 stand, including the first “MNF” broadcast from former Fox partners Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, widely regarded as one of the best broadcasting teams in American football.

Additionally, the Week 1 “MNF” matchup featured the return of Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson to the Seahawks’ Lumen Field. That matchup was big enough on its own, airing on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes. Indeed, Sports Media Watch reported that “MNF”‘s Week 1 debut was the highest-rated since 2000, with a Nielsen rating of 11.1 and 19.84 million viewers.

Now ESPN has two huge weeks to start the season instead of just one. And from here it can only get bigger.

ESPN and the NFL agreed a new 10-year deal in March 2021 that will begin in 2023 and run through the 2033 season. It will feature an increase in “Monday Night Football” games in a given season, from 17 to 23. ESPN will achieve that with even more doubleheaders in the future: three, instead of the traditional ones.

The deal, reportedly worth $2.6 billion, also includes ESPN in the Super Bowl rotation in 2026 and 2030; give the network a week 18 Saturday night doubleheader; and let the network air an exclusive ESPN+ game on Sundays (starting in 2022).

‘MNF’ WEEK 2 SCHEDULE: Eagles-Vikings | Bills-Titans

Which channels are tonight’s ‘MNF’ games?

The two “Monday Night Football” games overlap in their coverage, with the first game – Bills-Titans – starting at 7:15 p.m. ET on ESPN. Starting at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC, it begins to overlap with the evening’s second kick-off, Eagles-Vikings.

Traditionally, ESPN just started one game after the end of the other, with the first game starting at approximately 7:00 PM ET and the last one at 10:00 PM ET. However, that meant that the last game would often end after midnight on the east coast.

Spreading the kick-off on different networks allows viewers to tune in to both without staying up late to watch the final match. In addition, ABC and ESPN will offer periodic double box views to see both games on the same screen. Both broadcasts will also use dual scoreboxes (depending on the game you’re watching, the other game’s scorebox will be smaller and less noticeable than the current broadcast).

ESPN and ABC are likely counting on viewers to switch to Eagles-Vikings after the Bills-Titans close, which is supposed to take place sometime in the third quarter of the previous game.

Below you can see on which channel the respective games will be shown; no matter which game you want to watch, both can be streamed via fuboTV, which carries the ABC network family and offers a free trial:

MORE: Why Joe Buck and Troy Left Aikman Fox to Join ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ Booth

Titans at Bills

  • Time: 19:15 ET
  • TV: ESPN | ESPN2
  • Stream: ESPN app, fuboTV

Vikings at Eagles

  • Time: 8:30 PM ET
  • TV: ABC | ESPN+
  • Stream: ESPN app, fuboTV

Who summons the ‘MNF’ games?

ESPN’s primary “Monday Night Football” broadcast team of Buck (play-by-play), Aikman (color commentator), and Lisa Salters (side reporter) will feature the Eagles-Vikings game in Philadelphia.

A secondary broadcast team consisting of Steve Levy, Dan Orlovsky, Louis Riddick and Laura Rutledge will be calling the Bills-Titans game in Buffalo.

John Parry will run both games as the expert on duty if required.

MORE: Why Are Dan Orlovsky, Steve Levy, Louis Riddick Announcing ‘Monday Night Football’ In Week 2?

History of ‘MNF’ doubleheaders

ESPN has had a scheduled doubleheader every season dating back to 2006 except for one.

That came in 2021; prior to the season, ESPN and NFL’s contract introduced a Saturday doubleheader late in the season, with a selection of games that had playoff implications. For that reason, ESPN dropped its traditional Week 1 doubleheader in favor of Week 18, which included Chiefs-Broncos and Eagles-Cowboys.

The “MNF” doubleheader resumed in 2022, with Bills-Titans and Eagles-Vikings.

Date Game results
September 11, 2006 Vikings 19, Redskins 16
Chargers 27, Raiders 0
September 10, 2007 Bengal 27, Raven 20
49ers 20, Cardinals 17
September 8, 2008 Packers 24, Vikings 19
Broncos 41, Raiders 14
September 14, 2009 Patriots 25, Bills 24
Chargers 24, Raiders 20
September 13, 2010 Ravens 10, Jets 9
Chiefs 21, Chargers 14
September 12, 2011 Patriots 38, Dolphin 24
Raiders 23, Broncos 20
September 10, 2012 Ravens 44, Bengal 13
Chargers 22, Raiders 14
September 9, 2013 Eagles 33, Redskins 27
Texans 31, Chargers 28
Sep 8, 2014 Lions 35, Giants 14
Chargers 18, Cardinals 17
September 14, 2015 Falcons 26, Eagles 24
49ers 20, Vikings 3
September 12, 2016 Steelers 38, Red Skins 16
49ers 28, Aries 0
September 11, 2017 Vikings 29, Saints 19
Broncos 24, Chargers 21
September 10, 2018 Fighter Jets 48, Lions 17
Rams 33, Raiders 13
September 9, 2019 Saints 30, Texans 28
Raiders 24, Broncos 16
September 14, 2020 Steelers 26, Giants 16
Titans 16, Broncos 14
September 19, 2022 Titans at Bills
Vikings at Eagles

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