You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Arena touchdown

Football league inks primetime deal with TNN

NEW YORK — The Arena Football League, which is beginning its 14th year, has scored its best TV deal yet, signing a contract with TNN that will give the league its first regular weekly primetime exposure.

Beginning in April, TNN, in its first deal ever with the AFL, will begin cablecasting a live slate of Thursday-night games throughout the 14-week regular season.

For the post-season, TNN, ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will share the coverage of the 11 playoff games. ABC will telecast the Arena Bowl championship game on Aug. 20. ABC also covered the last two Arena Bowls, picking up a 1.5 Nielsen rating for last year’s victory of the Albany, N.Y., Firebirds over the defending champion Orlando, Fla., Predators. For the Arena Bowl the year before, ABC averaged a 1.6 rating.

Insiders say the new TV deal will end up funneling about $25 million to the AFL over the next three years. Other sources said TNN, which is owned by CBS, has promised the AFL that it will engineer a massive marketing campaign across all CBS platforms, including the cable network Country Music TV, the 16 owned-and-operated TV stations, 160 owned radio stations and 120,000 billboards.

Sharing revs

TNN will sell the ad time not only on its own network’s AFL games, but also on the ESPN and ABC telecasts. The AFL will in effect be buying the timeslots for the games on ESPN and ABC. When advertising revenues reach a specific, undisclosed amount, TNN and the AFL will share in the ad dollars above that total.

ESPN was the main TV partner of the AFL for 11 of the past 13 seasons, with local coverage running exclusively for the two non-ESPN years.

TNN has signed a three-year deal, with two additional one-year options, said David Baker, commissioner of the AFL. The ESPN/ABC deal is for one year, with a one-year renewal option, he added.

Although in February the National Football League bought an exclusive option to buy up to 49.9% of the AFL at some point within the next two years, Mark Hamister, chairman of the AFL’s TV and marketing committee, said the NFL did not get involved in the negotiations with either TNN or ESPN/ABC.

In addition to Albany and Orlando, the AFL competes in 15 markets: Buffalo, N.Y.; Des Moines, Iowa.; East Rutherford, N.J.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Hartford, Conn.; Houston; Los Angeles; Milwaukee; Nashville, Tenn.; Oklahoma City; Phoenix; Plantation, Fla.; Raleigh, N.C.; San Jose; and Tampa, Fla. The AFL will announce an 18th team next week, and expansion teams in Chicago and New Orleans will kick off in 2001.

More TV

  • 'Dark Tower' Pilot at Amazon Casts

    'Dark Tower' Pilot at Amazon Casts Jasper Pääkkönen, Sam Strike

    The pilot for the planned “Dark Tower” series adaptation currently in the works at Amazon has cast its two leads. Sources say that Jasper Pääkkönen and Sam Strike have both been cast in the pilot, which is based on the Stephen King book series of the same name. Strike will play Roland Deschain, also known [...]

  • EMPIRE: L-R: Taraji P. Henson and

    TV Ratings: 'Empire' Hits Series Low

    The second episode of “Empire” after the arrest of one of its stars, Jussie Smollett, was the lowest rated in the series’ history. The March 20 episode scored a 1.1 rating in the 18-49 demo, and was watched by just under 4 million total viewers. Last week’s midseason premiere also struggled, with a 1.3 rating [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' to End with Season

    'Schitt's Creek' Renewed for a Sixth and Final Season

    “Schitt’s Creek” has been renewed for a sixth and final season. Co-creator and star Daniel Levy announced the news on his social media Thursday with a letter written by himself and his father and series co-creator/star Eugene Levy. “We are very excited to announce that ‘Schitt’s Creek’ is coming back for a sixth season on [...]

  • Liza Koshy Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards

    How Nickelodeon Capitalizes on Social Media to Stay on Top of Kids' Campaigns

    When Nickelodeon’s green slime first oozed its way over talent’s heads 40 years ago on the acquisition Canadian series “You Can’t Do That on Television,” there was no way of knowing the stuff would transcend series and generations of children — let alone launch a festival. But green goop was just the beginning of the [...]

  • Grime Star Stormzy Joins Upcoming BBC

    Grime Star Stormzy Joins Roc Nation Exec Produced BBC Drama ‘Noughts & Crosses’

    “Noughts and Crosses” just added another musical heavy hitter with grime supremo Stormzy set to star in the adaptation of the Malorie Blackman novels for the BBC. Jay-Z’s Roc Nation is already on board and will exec produce, as will Participant Media. Stormzy has an on-screen role and will play Kolawale, a newspaper editor and [...]

  • Cineflix Alum Launches New Banner Fugitive,

    Cineflix Alum Launches New Banner Fugitive, Tees Up Alex Gibney, Yolanda Ramke Shows

    Anthony Kimble, formerly of Cineflix, National Geographic, and Viacom’s Channel 5, has launched Fugitive and will develop, finance, and exec produce drama and unscripted TV through the new banner. Its first projects include “Uncanny Valley: The Truth About Thinking Machines,” which comes from producers Topic and Jigsaw. A series about A.I. and the future of [...]

  • Cineflix Rights Scoops Icelandic Political Series

    Cineflix Rights Scoops Icelandic Political Series 'The Minister'

    Cineflix Rights, a leading U.K. content distributor, has acquired “The Minister,” the anticipated political drama series headlined by Icelandic star Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”). Produced by the Icelandic company Sagafilm, “The Minister” centres on Benedikt Ríkhardsson (Ólafsson), a populist politician who becomes Iceland’s Prime Minister. However, Benedikt is suffering from [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content