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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

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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