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ESPN scores 'Monday Night Football'
Reports say the cable network could pay the NFL around $1B a year to take the show from sister ABC.
April 18, 2005: 6:20 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The long running "Monday Night Football" has found a new home, moving from the Disney-owned ABC network to the company's sister cable channel ESPN in 2006, a spokesman for ESPN said Monday.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said ESPN could pay the National Football League as much as $1 billion annually in an 8-year deal, which covers only regular season games.

While that is roughly twice the amount that ABC pays, ESPN has the added advantage deriving revenue from distribution fees and could increase the amount it charges cable and satellite operators to carry the sports network. ABC must rely solely on advertising revenue, according to the article.

"Securing an American television institution well into the future will strengthen our core sports asset," Bob Iger, Disney's president and incoming CEO, said in a statement. "Under the agreement, we will continue to see ESPN deliver strong profits and contribute to the growth of The Walt Disney Company."

The Journal said Disney's (down $0.43 to $26.94, Research) ABC has been losing as much as $150 million a year with the program.

ESPN will give up the rights for airing Sunday National Football League games in 2006, which GE's (Research) NBC network bought for $600 million, according to the article.

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