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Good News: ESPN’s Overall NFL Coverage Will Continue To Not Be Completely Awful

Speculation has been rampant across the internet today but it now has been officially confirmed that after weeks of speculation, the only show on ESPN devoted entirely to intelligent, thoughtful analysis regarding the NFL has been spared and will be part of the network’s programming for the upcoming football season.

Earlier this afternoon, ESPN released a statement indicating that despite some sponsorship snafus and other behind-the-scenes production issues, NFL Matchup will return for another season. The show has been on the air since 1994 and will continue to feature Sal Paolantonio as host with Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski, who is surprisingly tolerable in the show’s format, as analysts.

The entire press release follows.

Via ESPN MediaZone:

NFL Matchup, ESPN’s popular 30-minute weekly X’s and O’s preview and analysis show that uses team-supplied coaching footage to discuss NFL strategy and tactics, will continue on the network this fall thanks to a new, multiyear agreement with NFL Films. One of the few programs that offers an “inside the film room” perspective, Matchup has been popular among football fans since it debuted on ESPN in 1994.

ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio will continue to host with Monday Night Football analyst Ron Jaworski and studio analyst Merril Hoge. The show will continue to be produced by NFL Films, under the direction of longtime producer Greg Cosell. It will originate from the NFL Films headquarters in Mount Laurel, N.J., and ESPN will now oversee selling sponsorship of the program.

NFL Matchup will air at 3 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. on NFL Sundays, beginning with the regular-season kickoff weekend Sept. 12 and will continue through Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 6, 2011. Beginning in Week 17, the show will add a re-air most Sundays at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN2, and during the 2011 NFL season it will move to this time on a week-by-week basis.

The top five metered markets who watched ESPN’s NFL Matchup during the 2009 NFL season are Columbus, Ohio (1.7 household rating), New Orleans (1.6), Charlotte (1.5), Birmingham, Ala. (1.4) and Dayton, Ohio (1.4). In addition to New Orleans and Charlotte, other highly-rated NFL cities for the program included Cleveland (1.2), Cincinnati (1.1) and Washington, D.C. (1.1).

While I am relieved that NFL Matchup is coming back for at least a few more NFL seasons, I notice that tWWL is still totally hosing the program with the 3:00 a.m. time for rolling out new episodes. That sucks. At least it still doesn’t have to worry about a head-to-head matchup with Perspectives featuring host Lionel Osbourne, which has held down the coveted 4:52 a.m. Sunday morning time slot for years now.

NFL Matchup Returning to ESPN This Fall for 17th Season [ESPN MediaZone]
(previously at the Sportress: Could The Only Competent NFL Show On ESPN Be No More?)