Jump to content

How ESPN landed Aaron Rodgers’ Jets vs. the Bills in Week 1: Media Circus

Recommended Posts

How did ESPN land Aaron Rodgers and the Jets to open its “Monday Night Football” schedule?

Well, they asked, for starters.

ESPN management specifically asked the NFL if they could telecast Rodgers’ first game at home. But they were hoping for more than that — they really wanted Rodgers’ first home game to come in Week 1.

When the schedule came out — featuring the high-powered Bills at the Jets on Sept. 11 at 8:15 p.m. ET — ESPN could not believe its bounty.

“We did not put any parameters on our ask in terms of who the opponent was, and I was pleasantly surprised on two fronts,” said ESPN president of content Burke Magnus. “First, we got his first game in the Jets uniform at home in Week 1. Then where I really got excited was seeing it’s an AFC East game with a really good opponent and another great quarterback in Josh Allen. The ceiling on that game is just enormous.

“We try in most circumstances to give the NFL as much flexibility as possible in our requests, understanding that we don’t think it made a lot of difference as to whether or not that (opponent) was Buffalo or Miami or New England in the divisional game against the Jets. So seeing Buffalo at the Jets was about as good as as we could have possibly gotten.”

I was curious how someone in Magnus’ position looks at his or her network’s schedule when the league sends them the completed set of games (which usually comes the same week we find out about it).

“I always look to what we have Week 1 first,” Magnus said. “Last year with DenverSeattle, it was the most viewed game (19.84 million viewers) of the season for us. Week 1 is powerful. We have potential in that window beyond most if not all of our other windows. just in terms of the fans thirsting for the new season and optimism running wild. It only takes a little bit of a storyline like Russell Wilson going back (to) Seattle and a decent game to pop a huge number. We recognize that to be a priority window for us. So I looked there first. Then I looked at our simulcast windows where we know we have ABC and ESPN (airing games) together. I look for our big brands and see who they have as an opponent. Are they home or away? And who is their opponent? Is it another big brand? Is it a divisional game? Is it an interesting positional matchup, that kind of thing.

“In my opinion, we have two secret weapons relative to the schedule quality at this point which are different than in years past,” Magnus continued. “One, we’ve got Joe (Buck) and Troy (Aikman) in the booth. If anyone thinks that doesn’t make a difference, I would suggest it absolutely does make a difference. That’s a team that has called multiple Super Bowls. There’s no game that’s too good for them to call. No. 2 is we have strategic opportunities throughout the year to simulcast a big game on ABC and ESPN and sometimes ESPN2 with the Mannings. So having multiple networks, the MegaCast multiplier if you will, allows the NFL to know if they put a game like PhiladelphiaKansas City (Week 11) in our window, it can compete pound for pound with ‘Sunday Night Football.’ I think if you looked back at our prior schedules, you might not see those kinds of games very often if at all.”

Magnus said his team will now begin discussions with Eli and Peyton Manning as to which weeks they will do the ManningCast. The only week announced so far is the Week 1 game between the Bills and Jets. ESPN is trying to get a mix of the Mannings adding to an already big game and maybe help juice a middle-of-the-road one.

“It’s a relatively easy thing to lock down now that we have the full schedule,” Magnus said. “Presuming they don’t have some conflict personally that is unmovable, we would absolutely want them on Philadelphia-Kansas City on Nov. 20.”

Peacock will exclusively stream an NFL wild-card playoff game in prime time on Saturday, Jan. 13. The game will follow a late afternoon wild-card game on NBC and Peacock, at 8 p.m. ET. Here’s what this means for viewers.

CBS Sports announced on Monday that longtime NFL quarterback Matt Ryan has been hired as an NFL game and studio analyst. A CBS Sports spokesperson said he will work games in 2023.


“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...