Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN network has bought an equity stake in the Arena Football League and has a new five-year broadcast rights agreement with the league. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed.


The network, along with ESPN2 and ABC, also owned by Burbank-based Disney, will broadcast at least 26 regular-season and playoff games per season over the next five years. The first broadcast will begin when the season starts in March.


The Arena Football League plays a 17-week regular season and the agreement gives ESPN the in-game ad inventory and also the multimedia rights as part of the deal. The league retained regional broadcast rights.


ESPN said it plans to air most of the regular-season games for the 21-year old league on Monday nights through its ESPN 2 channel. ABC will carry at least two games, including the season-opener and the championship game.
Mike Ditka, Ron Jaworski and Jon Bon Jovi hold stakes in Arena Football League teams.


ESPN and ABC have broadcast Arena Football League games between 1995-2002.

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