NFL schedule 2017: ESPN wants better 'Monday Night Football' games – Washington Post

ESPN to NFL: Please help. (David Kohl/AP)

Of the 17 “Monday Night Football” games played on ESPN in 2016, just two featured teams that would both go on to make the playoffs. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” package, meanwhile, got five such games thanks in part to the network’s league-awarded ability to flex out less-appealing contests for more meaningful matchups.

Don’t think this fact is lost on ESPN in the era of cord-cutting, subscriber losses and astronomical rights fees. Burke Magnus, the network’s executive vice president of programming and scheduling, admitted as much on Wednesday, one day before the NFL’s 2017 regular season schedule is released.

“We have high expectations because we’ve been as engaged with the league as we ever have been in terms of what the results are going to be,” Magnus said at the 2017 CAA World Congress of Sports, per Sports Business Daily. “We’ve done everything we can possibly do to communicate with the league and guide them in terms of our preferences, and now we’ll see.”

This is the part where we’ll remind everyone that ESPN’s deal with the NFL has been a disaster, comparatively: In exchange for $1.9 billion annually, the network gets the set-in-stone dregs for “Monday Night Football,” one playoff game (usually the least appealing of the wild-card matchups), no Super Bowls, the right to show highlights and the draft. The amount ESPN pays by itself isn’t all that far from what the other three networks pay combined — somewhere around $3.5 billion per season — and they all get the Super Bowl every couple of years. NBC comes out even better: It gets the Super Bowl plus the right to more or less craft its late-season schedule as it sees fit.

ESPN won’t be getting flex-schedule abilities anytime soon and, as Mike

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