Hours before the kickoff to a highly-anticipated season, the National Football League unveiled on Thursday an eight-year contract extension with ESPN for the Monday Night Football franchise that is reportedly worth $15.2 billion.

The new deal will keep the second-most watched football program on the Walt Disney (DIS) cable network through 2021. The agreement, which is set to begin in 2014, will also boost the number of NFL-related programs appearing on ESPN.

The MNF contract extension is the latest sign of the strong demand in the media world for premium sports content.

A number of major rights deals have been signed of late, including a $10.8 billion contract between CBS (CBS) and Time Warner (TWX) for March Madness and a $300 million, 20-year deal between ESPN and the University of Texas to create the Longhorn Network -- the first 24/7 cable network dedicated to a single sports program.

The rights deal announced Thursday for MNF is worth $15.2 billion, The New York Times reported. At $1.9 billion per year, ESPN is paying 73% more than under the current contract.

According to ESPN.com, the network will have the rights to 17 Monday Night Football games a year, extra highlights on all platforms, coverage of the Pro Bowl and NFL draft and 500 additional hours of studio programming.

Additionally, Bristol, Conn.-based ESPN will have the ability to broadcast MNF and NFL studio programming on an ESPN app available to Verizon (VZ) customers.

The NFL is also expected to soon reach deals to extend its TV contracts with CBS and NBC, which is now majority owned by Comcast (CMCSA).

The ESPN extension comes days after the football league renewed a sponsorship agreement with PepsiCo (PEP). That new, 10-year contract is reportedly worth $2.3 billion. 

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