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.
|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|