“We generally have not broadcasted the anthem, and I don’t think that will change this year. Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast the anthem,” Pitaro said during ESPN Football Media Day, according to Axios’ Sara Fischer.
“Again that could change,” Pitaro added. “It’s unpredictable what could happen in the world, but as of now, we’re not. We have communicated that back to the NFL. They have not asked but as courtesy and good partners we have let them know what our plans are.”
ESPN had shown the national anthem before games in the past, but opted, for the most part, not to do so last year. The broadcast included the anthem last season on the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the day after the deadly shootings in Las Vegas and the first Monday after President Donald Trump began publicly criticizing players who protested during the song.
In May, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a new national anthem policy for the 2018 season that would require players and league personnel on the sideline to stand but give them the option to remain in the locker room if they don’t want to stand. Last month, the league, in a joint statement with the NFL Players Association, announced that it was suspending — for now — that recently adopted policy of fining or suspending players who don’t stand “at respect” for the national anthem, pending further review.
ESPN pays about $2 billion per year for the right to broadcast Monday Night Football, according to the Associated Press.