ESPN To Broadcast NFL Wild Card Playoff Game, NBC Gets Divisional Round Matchup
ESPN will carry an NFL Wild Card playoff game this season, marking the first time an NFL postseason game will move off broadcast TV. ESPN has committed to pay $100M per season to carry the game, sources said. ESPN says the NFL exercised an option to move one Wild Card game to cable starting this season. The move is not without some risk for the NFL. Last season's least-viewed NFL Wild Card game averaged 27.6 million viewers (NBC's Chiefs-Colts on Saturday afternoon). That would be the most-viewed program in cable TV history, topping the '11 BCS Championship (Auburn-Oregon), which averaged 27.316 million viewers. The Wild Card playoff announcement is part of ESPN's NFL deal signed in '11 that put the channel "on the path" to carry a game that previously had been produced by NBC. Similar to its regular-season structure, ESPN's game will be simulcast on a local broadcast station in the participating teams' markets. It will also be available on WatchESPN. Meanwhile, NBC will pick up a Divisional playoff game from either CBS or Fox. Sources say NBC is not paying extra for its divisional playoff game; the deal it signed in '11 accounted for the Divisional playoff game. It will alternate between the AFC (CBS) and NFC (Fox) each season. It has not been determined which conference's game NBC will carry this season.