ESPN will kick off the NFL playoffs on Saturday with coverage of the NFC Wild Card game between the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals.
The 4:20 telecast on Jan. 3 from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte marks the worldwide leader’s first-ever NFL postseason telecast. ESPN gained the rights as part of a new playoff television lineup that also sees NBC trade a Wild Card game for a matchup in the Divisional round.
Published reports peg the price of the Wild Card game at $100 million.
ESPN’s MNF team of Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and sideline reporter Lisa Salters will call the Wild Card game, as well as the 2015 NFL Pro Bowl on Jan. 25, 2015 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, which returns to ESPN this season as part of the company’s new rights agreement.
Similar to regular-season MNF games, ESPN’s Wild Card telecast will be simulcast on over the air stations in the primary markets of the participating teams; it will also be available via WatchESPN for fans who subscribe to an affiliated provider. ESPN Deportes has Spanish-language rights to the game.
The Wild Card round continues with Pittsburgh-Baltimore from the Steel City on NBC on Saturday night at 8:15 p.m.
The Sunday, Jan. 4 matchups feature the Indianapolis Colts hosting the Cincinnati Bengals on CBS at 1:05 p.m., with Fox televising the Detroit Lions-Dallas Cowboys from AT&T Stadium at 4:40 p.m. that day.
When ESPN reached a new eight-year, $15.2 billion extension in 2011 for Monday Night Football, the agreement gave the league an option to move a playoff game to ESPN, which the circuit opted to exercise this season.