Monday Night Football is a long-running weekly broadcast of NFL (American Football) games. Debuting in 1970 on ABC, the program was conceived as both an answer to Major League Baseball's Game of the Week (and the NHL's Hockey Night in Canada) and a showcase for the best teams in the NFL, as the league traditionally uses the coveted Monday Night slot to spotlight matches between high caliber teams.There were some Monday night games on CBS in the late 1960s as a sort of test run of the concept, but they were not played every week. Those games are not considered part of the series as such.Monday Night Football was an instant hit in the ratings and quickly became a fixture in American pop culture. In particular, it made household names out of it's announcing team: Play-By-Play man Frank Gifford and color analysts Howard Cosell and "Dandy" Don Meredith. It also can be credited for helping make the NFL the most popular sport in the US, as the series routinely highlighted the league's top players and rivalries. It also spun off a spin-off of sorts, as ESPN (by then majority-owned by ABC) followed suit to launch Sunday Night Football in 1987.Sadly, things changed when in 2005 when Disney (who by that time owned both ABC and ESPN) decided that declining ratings (exacerbated by the popularity of pro wrestling's WCW Monday Nitro and WWF Monday Night Raw) and escalating TV contracts no longer made the series profitable enough for ABC to keep. A large part of the problem was that competitive balance had become a problem for the schedule makers as the top teams from the previous season might no longer be so the next season. This resulted in late-season match-ups that were clunkers because one or the other of the teams were no longer a playoff contender, making the Monday night game less appealing to a mass audience. ABC also ended up with a death slot before the game after MacGyver was canceled as no show could recapture the perfect chemistry of Richard Dean Anderson's iconic character leading into MNF, and as many local affiliates figured that out and pre-empted whatever was before the game with a local football show, was stuck airing 20/20 Downtown to complete viewer apathy.ABC, among other entities, tried to get the NFL to agree to a concept that would eventually become known as "flex scheduling," which would be invoked when needed to replace a poor match-up with a better one. The idea was deemed impractical because of the logistics involved in moving a Sunday afternoon game to Monday night.As part of that year's reshuffling of the NFL TV contracts, Disney decided to bid on the MNF contract but put the games on ESPN. With subscription fees in addition to regular adversiting income, ESPN could bid more for the contract than ABC and still maintain profitability. The move of the top rated, icon show to cable angered many fans but NBC bid on the now-vacant Sunday night package. The Sunday night game was now considered the marquee game of the week and flex scheduling was put into place for this package as it's much easier to move a game 3 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours later in the day than a day-and-a-half later. Likewise, MNF ended up taking the games that were on the old Sunday night contract. Disney decided not to bid on the Sunday night package due to the then-dominance of Desperate Housewives on Sunday nights at the time; while NBC easily wins Sunday evenings, the ABC lineup of Once Upon a Time and Revenge has continued to do well as good counterprogramming. ABC's Monday evening lineup of Dancing with the Stars and Castle has done better with a steady lineup through the year, even against MNF, while NBC is now stuck with a post-Super Bowl lineup on Sunday nights which generally trails the other networks.Monday Night Football remains popular even with the jump to cable and routinely ends up in the Top Ten Nielsen ratings chart every Monday. And with the games on cable, it's now possible to have a season-opening Monday night doubleheader with one game beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern time and the second at 10:15 Eastern. The later game usually involves two west-coast teams (usually the currently awful Raiders have been involved to much viewer and advertiser annoyance) but in 2010, it will be the showcase for the newly-remodeled Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs (a 9:15 p.m. kickoff locally). It also gives ESPN a prominent day to market everything about their network, and all programming is focused around both Monday morning quarterbacking and hyping that night's game.
Monday Night Football has been broadcasted on:
Monday Night Football contains examples of the following tropes: