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ESPN axes Playmakers under pressure from NFL

ESPN axes Playmakers under pressure from NFL

ESPN said Wednesday it would not renew Playmakers, the gay-inclusive drama series whose harsh depiction of professional football angered the National Football League. "We have decided that Playmakers will not resume production," said Mark Shapiro, ESPN's executive vice president of programming and production. "Many considerations went into to this decision, not the least of which was the reaction from a longtime and valued partner. We are proud of the show on many levels. It was a creative and critical success, and we are appreciative that viewers clearly embraced this new genre on our much so that we are actively engaged in pursuing our next drama." Playmakers drew the ire of the NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue for its portrayal of a fictional football team whose members indulged in illegal activities, including drug abuse. ESPN promoted the series during its own Sunday evening broadcasts of NFL games. As ESPN's first foray into scripted serial programming, Playmakers averaged an impressive 2.2 million total viewers during the course of its first season, with more than 1 million from ESPN's core men 18-49 demographic tuning in each episode.

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