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After Spectrum Fight, Disney Gets A HUGE Win

Disney/ESPN get huge NFL ratings
Credit: Disney

Disney desperately needed a win. The news surrounding the Walt Disney Company lately has all been terrible. Wall Street analysts were openly wondering if the return of Disney CEO Bob Iger was a good idea. But just when it appeared the walls were closing in on Iger and Disney, they were able to salvage a much-needed win.

Iger/Disney problems mount what's next?

Credit: Disney

On Monday, just before ESPN’s first NFL game, Disney and Spectrum reached a “transformative” deal that returned Disney-owned networks, including ESPN, to Charter Communications’ 14.5 million households. Disney and ESPN desperately needed those viewers, as this would be the year’s first and most significant game.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football game featured the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets. The Bills were the defending AFC East Champion, while the Jets debuted new quarterback Aaron Rodgers. However, four plays into the game, Rodgers tore his Achilles and will miss the remainder of the season.

disney espn partners

Credit: Disney, ESPN; Walt Disney Television, Flickr

Without the deal with Spectrum, the game would have been off the air in many homes throughout the Metro New York area. Instead, Disney and ESPN got their biggest win of the season.

According to a press release from Disney, the Jets/Bills game was the most-watched Monday Night Football game in NFL history, with 22.6 million viewers. It surpassed the 2009 Minnesota Vikings/Green Bay Packers game, which saw Brett Favre taking on his old team.

The audience peaked at 25.2 million viewers during the first 15 minutes of the game. The total number of viewers is across all Disney-owned networks that aired the game, including ESPN, ABC, ESPN Plus, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN 2, which aired the Manning Cast of the game. This was a 14 percent increase over last year’s Monday Night Football opener.


Credit: ESPN

The NFL is rating gold. According to Nielson Ratings, 19 of the 20 most-watched programs in 2022 were NFL games. And ESPN is paying up for those ratings.

Just before the 2021 NFL season started, Disney/ESPN reached a deal with the NFL for $2.7 billion per season to broadcast Monday Night Football, two playoff games, and alternating Super Bowls. In an average season, ESPN will broadcast 18 games, which means they’ll play around $150 million per game. But with millions of people tuning in each week, it’s worth the investment.

ESPN also went deep into their pockets for the broadcasting duo of Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, formerly with Fox. Estimates suggest Buck and Aikman cost ESPN over $309 million a season.


Credit: ESPN

This was a big win for Disney/ESPN when they desperately needed it. And as ESPN moves from traditional cable to a streaming-only model, the NFL broadcasts are something fans will be willing to pay for. Live sports, including college football,  will pave the way for ESPN in the future, but the National Football League will be the content that fans want. The sports fan will follow those games anywhere, and ESPN’s streaming service will be the place to find it.

We will continue to update this story at Disney Fanatic.

About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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