TV Answer Man, I don’t understand why ABC and ESPN will have two games on at the same time on Monday night (September 18). How do they expect us to watch both games at the same time?! Can you explain this to us? — Paul, Reno, Nevada. 

Paul, ESPN and ABC, which are both owned by Disney, will each air a National Football League game tonight. The Buffalo Bills-Tennessee Titans game will begin on ESPN at 7:15 p.m. ET while the Philadelphia Eagles-Minnesota Vikings matchup will kickoff at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN+.

It’s not unusual for the Disney networks to host a single-night NFL doubleheader; ESPN has frequently started the Monday Night Football season with one. But this is the first time that parts of the games will run concurrently, meaning the viewer could be forced to choose which game to watch at a particular time.

ESPN executives say it’s an experiment designed to boost awareness and interest in both networks. The sports network will have three doubleheaders next season as part of its new contract with the league and it wants to see how the same-time airing goes before deciding how to proceed in 2023.

But how can the viewer keep track of both games, much less watch both? There are at least three ways:

1. Just watch either ABC or ESPN.
Starting at 8:30 p.m. ET, when both games are overlapping, ESPN and ABC will periodically show a double video box on screen, allowing the viewer to watch both games at the same time. If you’ve ever seen the NFL RedZone Channel, it will be something like that. At times, SportsCenter host Scott Van Pelt will take over from the game’s primary announcers to offer updates.

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On other occasions, when video of both games are not showing, there will be a second smaller score box on each network so the viewer can keep track of the other game’s score and time.

ESPN2, which normally shows the ‘ManningCast’ during Monday Night Football, tonight will instead simulcast the Titans-Bills game.

2. Use your TV service to watch both channels at the same time. 
Some pay TV services have features that allow the viewer to show two or more channels on the same screen at the same time. For example, DIRECTV has a Sports Mix channel (channel 205) that displays multiple sports channels on one screen. (It’s uncertain if both ABC and ESPN will be in the Mix lineup tonight.) The satcaster also has a feature called Double Play that allows you to watch two channels simultaneously. See this page for details.

Here’s Dish’s version of the multi-channel feature.

FuboTV has MultiView that allows you to watch four live channels on one screen at the same time. However, it only works on the Apple TV streaming device. See this page for details. YouTube TV is working on a multi-channel ‘Mosiac Mode’ but it’s not available yet.

Advisory: I have never used one of the multi-view features mentioned here so I can’t vouch for their effectiveness and reliability. 

3. Use two devices to watch both channels at the same time.
Perhaps the easiest way to watch both channels at the same time is to use two different devices. For instance, you could put the ESPN game on your TV and the ABC game on your phone or tablet (or even another TV positioned next to the first one.)

Paul, hope this helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann