Live From CFP National Championship Game: ESPN’s MegaCast Bulks Up, Puts Voices Front and Center
20 viewing options will be available across the entire ESPN linear and digital family
Over the past four years, as the College Football Playoff has become a new tradition for college football fans, ESPN has developed its own annual ritual: what and just how many unique viewing options it can offer viewers as part of the massive MegaCast presentation.
Tonight, as Georgia and Alabama battle it out for the national title, ESPN will offer 20 ways for viewers to experience the game, making it the largest MegaCast offering ever, up from 14 last year.
The concept has come a long way from its first iteration, which took place during the final championship game of the BCS era.
“The first year, we got a lot of ‘why are you guys doing this,’” laughs Ed Placey, senior coordinating producer, college football, ESPN. “Now it’s become a fun tradition to see different ways of experiencing a big event and new ways that you can introduce presenting it.”
This year’s MegaCast emphasizes ESPN personalities, offering fans five shows for watching the game, along with conversation with talent from some of their favorite shows across the ESPN family. Voices will leverage sets, shows, and personalities from across the country. New this year is the inclusion of The Dan Le Batard Show; the popular radio talk show will be hosted from its studio in Miami and produced and directed through ESPN’s facility in Washington, DC.
The Bristol, CT, facility will produce two shows: one from the crew at NFL Live and SportsCenter, which will have Scott Van Pelt (and others) commenting on the game from the SportsCenter set, and Van Pelt’s regular late-night show following the conclusion of the game. Meanwhile, there will also be crews at ABC’s Times Square Studios in New York and ESPN’s Los Angeles-based studio.
Produced from various locations, each show will feature its own lineup of guests and their real-time analysis of the action. ESPNU will actually offer a linear option in which all five Voices shows — and the game — can be viewed simultaneously in a six-screen display.
Also new this year, with the introduction of the dual-SkyCam system for the main game production, viewers can choose to watch the game from either of the two SkyCams streaming live on ESPN3.
Returning this year are some of the most popular viewing offerings from previous years of the MegaCast. The Homers Telecast, which will take over ESPN2, features pairs of talent breaking down the game specifically from either the Alabama or the Georgia perspective. Coaches Film Room will feature active coaches from across the NCAA in a studio reacting to the game and providing real-time analysis of plays. The channel has grown in its popularity for the insights it provides and the limited commercial interruptions that it offers.
All in all, the MegaCast looks to get the most out of all of the on-air and production talent nationwide that wants to be a part of this major event and will also leverage the technological resources — including 124 cameras — deployed at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. It’s an opportunity to try some new and potentially revolutionary things for the viewer, and Placey relishes that environment.
“This gives us an opportunity to gauge someone’s reaction,” he explains. “It’s low-risk for us, because the main game production is well taken care of, and it’s an opportunity for us to explore the appetite for new possibilities. It’s also a way to have a place where, if there are slower moments in the game, people can explore some different things.”
Other MegaCast classics also are returning this year:
- Sounds of the Game (ESPN Classic and ESPN3)
- Command Center (Goal Line)
- All-22 (ESPN3)
- Data Center (ESPN3)
- Home Town Radio (ESPN3)