Why are there two NFL games tonight? History of ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader and a new twist for 2022

ESPN will continue its two-week Monday Night Football experiment in 2022, which has produced impressive results so far.

For just the second time since the network acquired the rights to “MNF” in 2006, ESPN did not air a doubleheader in Week 1, waiting instead to spread it to Week 2 this year. It was a multi-pronged decision that included 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.

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

With that, The Sporting News News breaks down the reasoning for delaying the Week 2 doubleheader, as well as the history of ESPN’s “MNF” broadcast:

MORE: Breakdown of new-look NFL, announcing teams for 2022

Why are there two “MNF” games tonight?

ESPN has established a tradition of Monday night Week 1 doubleheaders dating back to its acquisition of the Monday Night Football broadcasts in 2006. However, the network chose to postpone its Week 2 doubleheader selection to 2022. Why?

Part of the reason, Sports Illustrated noted, is that ESPN wanted to highlight its new $165 million Week 1 stand, which included the first “MNF” broadcast by former Fox partners Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, generally considered one of the best broadcast american football teams.

Additionally, the Week 1 “MNF” game featured the return of Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson to the Seahawks’ Lumen Field. This game 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 its highest-rated since 2000, with a Nielsen rating of 11.1 and 19.84 million viewers.

ESPN can now have two massive weeks to kick off the season instead of just one. And all that’s left is to get bigger from here on out.

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

The deal, reportedly worth $2.6 billion, will also include ESPN in the Super Bowl rotation in 2026 and 2030; give the network a Week 18 Saturday night doubleheader; and allowed the network to broadcast a Sunday game exclusive to ESPN+ (starting in 2022).

MNF WEEK 2 SCHEDULE: Eagles-Vikings | Bills titans

What channels are tonight’s “MNF” games on?

The two Monday Night Football games will overlap in coverage, with the first game — Bills-Titans — beginning at 7:15 PM ET on ESPN. Beginning at 8:30 PM ET on ABC, it will begin overlapping with the second kickoff of the night, Eagles-Vikings.

Traditionally, ESPN simply started one game after the other ended, with the first game starting around 7:00 PM ET and the second game starting at 10:00 PM ET. However, this meant that the final game often ended after midnight on the East Coast.

By staggering kickoffs on different networks, viewers can watch both without having to stay up late to watch the final game. In addition, ABC and ESPN will feature intermittent dual box views so you can see both games on the same screen. Both broadcasts will also use dual score boxes (depending on which game you’re watching, the other game’s score box will be smaller and less noticeable than the current broadcast).

ESPN and ABC are likely betting viewers will jump to Eagles-Vikings after the conclusion of Bills-Titans, which should take place sometime in the third quarter of the previous game.

Below you can see which channel the respective games will be on; whichever game you want to watch, both can be streamed via fuboTV, which carries the ABC family of networks and offers a free trial:

MORE: Why Joe Buck and Troy Aikman left Fox to join ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth

Titans at Bills

  • Time: 7:15 p.m. ET
  • television: ESPN | ESPN2
  • Streaming: ESPN app, fuboTV

Vikings at Eagles

  • Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
  • television: ABC | ESPN+
  • Streaming: ESPN app, fuboTV

Who calls the games “MNF”?

ESPN’s core Monday Night Football broadcast team of Buck (play-by-play), Aikman (color commentator) and Lisa Salters (sideline reporter) will call the Eagles-Vikings game in Philadelphia.

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

John Parry will work both games as an expert referee if required.

MORE: Why Dan Orlovsky, Steve Levy, Louis Riddick announce ‘Monday Night Football’ in Week 2?

History of ‘MNF’ double headers

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

This came in 2021; prior to the season, ESPN and the NFL’s contract introduced a late-season Saturday doubleheader, with select games that mattered to the playoffs. For that reason, ESPN dropped its traditional Week 1 doubleheader in favor of Week 18, which featured 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 Bengals 27, Ravens 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
Bosses 21, Loaders 14
September 12, 2011 Patriots 38, Dolphins 24
Raiders 23, Broncos 20
September 10, 2012 Ravens 44, Bengals 13
Chargers 22, Raiders 14
September 9, 2013 Eagles 33, Redskins 27
Texans 31, Chargers 28
September 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, Redskins 16
49ers 28, Rams 0
September 11, 2017 Vikings 29, Saints 19
Broncos 24, Chargers 21
September 10, 2018 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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