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ESPN Plans Megacast For Tonight’s CFB Title Game

Jason Barrett

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When ESPN uses its resources and scale to enhance the viewing experience for a major sporting event—as the company has done for the past two years with coverage of college football’s national title game—the results are often tremendous. Smartly, the network will once again feature Megacast coverage for the matchup between Alabama and Clemson in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 11 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Along with the traditional broadcast airing on ESPN—Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will call the game, Heather Cox is assigned to Clemson, Tom Rinaldi will report on Alabama, and rules expert Dave Cutaia and medical expert Dr. Jerry Punch also will be available—the company will offer 14 alternate productions across ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, and ESPN3. There is also ESPN Radio’s broadcast, and all Megacast feeds will be available on WatchESPN.

Over the past two years the best Megacast option has been the Film Room segment, which has shown ESPN at its innovative, understated best. The concept: Get a group of current college football coaches together at ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters to watch the game in real time via the regular broadcast, an All-22 camera and coach clicker technology. This year’s Film Room will once again air on ESPN2, with analysts Brian Griese and Chris Spielman as the hosts. Florida coach Jim McElwain will be one of the coaches.

The other Megacast elements:

•Homers Telecast (ESPNU): This new Megacast feature consists of a broadcast with analysts who will side with each of the teams. Joe Tessitore will call play-by-play with former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and former Alabama center Barrett Jones serving as the “homer” game analysts. Kenny Mayne will be on the sidelines. Dave Pasch will also be a part of the telecast.

•ESPN Voices (ESPNEWS): A group of ESPN personalities and celebrities will watch the game from a living room-type atmosphere. Teddy Atlas, Michelle Beadle, Jay Bilas, Marcellus Wiley and Taylor Twellman are expected to be part of the show.

•Sounds of the Game (ESPN Classic): This option will not have broadcasters. Instead, you can watch the telecast amplified by more than 100 microphones positioned throughout the stadium in addition to the public address announcer. The halftime performances will be shown in their entirety on this channel.

•Finebaum Film Room (SEC Network): SEC Network host Paul Finebaum along with SEC Network analysts Greg McElroy and Booger McFarland will watch the game from near the stadium and provide instant, live reaction. The show will also take live calls throughout the game. McElroy was excellent in this spot last year. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema will be part of this telecast.

•Spanish-Language Call (ESPN Deportes): Lalo Varela, Pablo Viruega, Bernardo Osun, and Carlos Nava call the game in Spanish.

•Command Center (ESPN Goal Line): A full-time, split-screen application showing the live game action, replays of every play, isolated camera feeds of both head coaches, enhanced statistics, and the ESPN Radio broadcast call.

•Home Town Radio (ESPN3): The ESPN telecast will be available with both the Alabama and Clemson home radio broadcasts serving as the audio. Alabama’s radio team is Eli Gold, Phil Savage, and Chris Stewart. The Clemson radio team is Don Munson, Rodney Williams and Patrick Sapp.

• Pylon Cam (ESPN3): A continuous stream from cameras at the eight pylons surrounding the field, both at the goal lines and the backlines of the end zones. The position of the ball will determine which 12 of the 24 available camera feeds will be displayed. There will also be a featured replay box offering the best pylon camera angle available of any key plays.

• Student Section (ESPN3): There will be cameras in the student sections (featuring 500 students from each school) as well as on the cheerleaders, bands and mascots of each team.

•Mock Replay Booth (ESPN3): This feature will mimic a traditional replay booth inside a college football stadium. Current ACC Replay Official Ralph Pickett and current SEC Replay Communicator Ben Oldham will take viewers through the full process of reviewing every play from their recreated replay booth set up in Bristol. They will be joined by former ACC Coordinator of Officials and current ESPN Rules Expert Doug Rhoads.

•Data Center (ESPN3): This option will consist of on-screen graphic content including analytics, curated social media reaction and more.

•Spider Cam (ESPN3): A continuous feed from the camera that roams the stadium from above the field.

•ESPN Radio will have Mike Tirico calling play-by-play, Todd Blackledge as the game analyst, Holly Rowe on the Alabama sideline and Joe Schad on the Clemson sideline. Rules expert Bill LeMonnier will also be available.

Read more at Sports Illustrated where this article was originally published

Sports TV News

PGA Tour Expects Mic’d Players To Be Common For 2023 TV Broadcasts

“This doesn’t need to be a walk and talk like I did. But we can make it what you want it to be.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Following the success with Max Homa last weekend, the PGA Tour is planning to mic a player up this weekend at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

According to Sports Business Journal, the Tour is considering micing up a player on either the 14th or 18th hole at Pebble Beach.

“The point of this is that if you want it to just be, they have an air pod on your caddie and they ask him one question, he could elaborate on something,” Homa said in an interview on the podcast No Laying Up. “That would be an improvement. This doesn’t need to be a walk and talk like I did. But we can make it what you want it to be.”

Homa added that he appreciated that the questions he was asked while taking part in the segment were solely on the task at hand and tackling the hole he was on.

“It wasn’t about how it is being a dad, how it is being in contention, it’s about golf,” he said. “This hole. That’s what we wanted it to be.”

CBS received positive reviews for debuting the new segment in their season debut at Torrey Pines last week.

It will be interesting to see if having players mic’d up for a segment will carry into NBC coverage or if it remains exclusively CBS. Have to think that in April at The Masters, if CBS keeps with it, the segment has the potential to be pretty compelling especially if the interview is with a player in contention or even leading.

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Sports TV News

ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years

“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”

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The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.

The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.

Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.

NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.

That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.

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Sports TV News

NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.

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Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.

ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.

The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.

At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.

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