The doubleheader was a Week 1 staple in recent years but was not a part of the 2021 schedule. Prior to 2021, the doubleheader featured a game starting early in the 7 p.m. hour and a second starting in the 10 p.m. hour. It made for a fairly miserable viewing experience for ET and CT viewers.
Last year, the NFL removed the Week 1 doubleheader and replaced it with a Week 18 Saturday doubleheader of flexed in matchups. However, the league brought back the doubleheader in 2022 as part of the new ESPN/ABC television deal. The deal technically features three weeks each season where Monday Night Football broadcasts will appear multiple times, but they are not all traditional Monday games.
This first night of two broadcasts is a unique one due to the overlapping broadcasts. Normally, it’s a traditional doubleheader. This weekend, ESPN and ABC will each offer live look-ins and updates from Scott Van Pelt about the other game on the given channel.
Following the Week 2 doubleheader, ESPN will broadcast the Broncos-Jaguars Week 8 game in London exclusively on ESPN+. That will get the MNF treatment along with that Monday’s Bengals-Browns game. Then, similar to last season, there will be a Week 18 Saturday doubleheader of playoff contenders.
As always, the decision to have the doubleheader comes down to the television contract and the money that comes with it. Primetime and exclusive windows can provide the NFL an opportunity to increase what the networks pay to air games, so why not figure out ways to pull out more individual broadcasts!