ESPN will not schedule college football on Monday to replace Monday Night Football in the event the NFL regular season is locked out, an ESPN source told TheBigLead.com. Schools need a firm schedule. The WWL does not want to commit to an audience-dividing game on ESPN2, should the NFL return. Monday Night Baseball would continue in that time slot through the end of the season.
The source also told TheBigLead.com ESPN execs feel they are better placed to withstand the lockout than the broadcast networks. CBS and Fox would lose their Sunday ratings. NBC would lose Sunday Night Football, the highest-rated primetime program on television.
Sports that are in season could benefit from the programming chasm. With no disincentive from football, ESPN would be a player in competitive Sunday afternoon time-slots. This could mean nationally-televised baseball on Sunday. Perhaps, MLS shifts some of its Saturday slate in September to Sunday?
What’s more interesting is how ESPN will fill the hours of daily programming normally devoted to the NFL. “Homecoming” marathons? Poetry Hour with Herm Edwards? My vote is for feature-length episodes of “Meet the Schlereth’s.”
[UPDATE: ESPN’s John Walsh touched on the MNF topic at Upfronts this week.]
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