New York -- ESPN will televise the expansion Cleveland
Browns National Football League franchise's first game as part of its 1999 NFL
Sunday-night football schedule.
The network's 22-game NFL schedule will feature four
preseason games and three Thursday-night contests, the network said. Along with Cleveland,
the network's schedule will feature games from all 16 playoff teams.
"We're obviously pleased with the schedule; it
provides the opportunity for the kind of growth that we started last year," said Dick
Glover, senior vice president of ESPN Enterprises.
The network is hoping to continue 1998's impressive
NFL-ratings performance. Last year's games averaged an 8.12 rating -- an increase of
9 percent over the ratings for the combined ESPN/Turner Network Television 1997
Sunday-night package -- according to Nielsen Media Research.
Along with the games, ESPN will continue to provide its
two-hour pregame show, Sunday NFL Countdown, as well as its daily NFL2Night
show on ESPN2, Glover said.