After a year hiatus, the Arena Football League returns with NFL Network presenting a weekly Friday night primetime game.
Kicking off on April 2 at 8 p.m. (ET), NFL Network will air a "game of the week" throughout the AFL's 18-week regular season. The NFL's in-house network will also televise the AFL's playoff games and its ArenaBowl Championship game the weekend of Aug. 20-23. All contests will be televised in high-definition and feature in-game audio techniques capturing the 50-yard game's intensity level.
After 22 seasons of play with coverage on NBC, ESPN and others, the old AFL decided to cancel the 2009 season in December of 2008.
The deal with NFL Network was negotiated on behalf of the AFL by consultant Neal Pilson, the former CBS Sports chief. Under the terms of the agreement, the AFL will be responsible for the sale of advertising inventory, and will work jointly with NFL Network on production, planning and execution. NFL Network will provide the on-air talent.
The AFL's 15 team league includes the Chicago Rush, Dallas Vigilantes, Tampa Bay Storm, Orlando Predators, Arizona Rattlers, Cleveland Gladiators, Utah Blaze, Jacksonville Sharks, Alabama (Huntsville) Viper, Bossier City/Shreveport Battlewing, Iowa Barnstormers, Milwaukee Iron, Oklahoma City, Yars Dawgz, Spokane Shock and Tulsa Talons.
"We embrace football at all levels," noted Charles Coplin, vice president of programming, NFL Network. "The AFL deal gives us exciting live football games on Friday nights from a league that has produced NFL players in the past including Kurt Warner."