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More “Monday Night Football” games to simulcast on ABC

Disney will lean harder on live sports simulcasts as dual strikes continue to halt scripted production.

Disney will lean harder on live sports simulcasts as dual strikes continue to halt scripted production.

The Walt Disney Company says it will simulcast more “Monday Night Football” telecasts on its ABC broadcast network as ongoing strikes involving Hollywood actors and writers continue to impact the production of scripted content.

The strikes already forced Disney to modify its fall prime-time lineup, which will see ABC rely heavily on repeats, game shows and competition series like “Dancing with the Stars,” which moved from ABC to streaming service Disney Plus early last year.

With the strikes continuing, Disney says it will put more “Monday Night Football” telecast on ABC to fill its Monday evening prime-time schedule. Prior to the strikes, ABC was set to simulcast five games from ESPN; now, that number has increased to 15 games this season.

Additionally, ABC will offer exclusive national telecasts of four National Football League (NFL) games on various Mondays this season, the network announced this week.

ESPN became the exclusive national distributor of “Monday Night Football” in 2006, ending ABC’s three-decade run as the broadcaster of Monday evening football games. Games that are exclusive to ESPN still air on ABC stations and affiliates in the home markets of the two teams playing each week, which means some football fans will see slightly more than 19 games on their local ABC broadcast channel this season.

The inaugural “Monday Night Football” telecast aired last week brought in 22.644 million viewers to ABC, the ESPN multiplex of networks and streaming services ESPN Plus and NFL Plus. The figure was based on data from Nielsen Media Research, a spokesperson for ESPN told The Desk.

Meanwhile, the NFL says its NFL Sunday Ticket package has grabbed more residential subscribers since moving to Google-owned streaming services YouTube and YouTube TV this season. The package offers live access to football games aired regionally by CBS and Fox outside a viewer’s home market.

NFL Sunday Ticket was offered exclusively by satellite service DirecTV for the better part of two decades, and moved exclusively to the YouTube streaming services this season. DirecTV continues to distribute the package to enterprise customers through its DirecTV for Business product.

While the NFL did not provide specific numbers about how many customers are subscribed to NFL Sunday Ticket this year compared to prior years, there is little reason to doubt that the number of residential customers taking the package has gone up.

The service’s distribution on YouTube and YouTube TV removes the friction of getting access to the package — football fans no longer have to install a DirecTV dish, they can get NFL Sunday Ticket on any device that supports the YouTube or YouTube TV apps, where they can also watch other services like Netflix, Prime Video and Disney Plus.

Several companies have offered special promotional deals to new and existing customers that leverage the wide available of NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube. Comcast, Verizon and even DirecTV have extended promotional deals that involve an NFL Sunday Ticket subscription, with some offering subsidized pricing that substantially reduces the cost of the package.