The frosty relationship between the NFL and ESPN has considerably warmed.
Once bitter, the two now are back in business, with a top ESPN executive making it sound harmonious.
In November, a deal was agreed upon for the entire NFL draft to be aired on ABC, ESPN’s broadcast partner. And ESPN announced Tuesday ABC will air two hours of the NFL Scouting Combine.
“I think it’s in a wonderful place right now,” ESPN executive Burke Magnus said of the relationship with the NFL in an interview with The Ringer. “You see it. It’s this draft deal. The combine deal. There were rumors we would not retain our wild-card game. The schedule we got from these guys for ‘Monday Night Football’ last year. I feel like the NFL has responded to a new day at ESPN relative to the relationship.
“The reset has been done,” Magnus added.
After network president John Skipper left ESPN amid a cocaine scandal last March, his replacement, Jimmy Pitaro, made it a priority to repair the fractured relationship.
With a stronger game schedule in 2018, highlighted by the Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Chiefs on Nov. 19, ESPN averaged nearly a million more viewers per game this season.
The reported problem with the relationship was the pieces done by ESPN’s journalistic arm that were critical of the NFL. Those issues seem to have been cleared up for now.