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. The coaches will be Jim McElwain (Florida), Larry Fedora (North Carolina), Will Muschamp (South Carolina), Pat Narduzzi (Pitt) and Willie Taggart (South Florida).
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.