ESPN’s now-annual Megacast broadcast for college football’s title game has featured the company at its production best. Last year viewers had access to 14 alternative broadcasts for Clemson’s thrilling 35–31 win over Alabama, including presentations on ESPN2, SEC Network, ESPNU, ESPNews, ESPN Classic, ESPN Goal Line and variations on ESPN3.
Given the critical and in-house praise for the Megacast—and with an eye toward getting momentum for the start of the college football season—ESPN executives have decided to implement a skinny Megacast for its opening broadcast of the college football season, Ohio State at Indiana on August 31 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Along with the main broadcast airing on ESPN, there will be six alternative presentations: a Coaches Film Room on ESPNews featuring former coaches Mack Brown, Mark Helfrich, and Gene Chizik, hosts Greg McElroy and Tom Luginbill and the ESPN debut of former LSU Coach Les Miles.
There will also be a homers’ broadcast on ESPNU (Dan Dakich will be the analyst for Indiana with play by play broadcaster Joe Tessitore); the debut of an All-22 broadcast (viewers can see the entire field from above the end zone) on ESPN3; a Skycam perspective on ESPN3, a DataCenter presentation on ESPN3, which features on-screen graphic content ranging from analytics, real-time drive charts, win probability updates, and curated social media reaction. ESPN will also employ Command Center on ESPN Goal Line, which is a split-screen with simultaneous multiple camera views.
“Opening night offered a special opportunity to start the season in a robust way,” senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting. “Ohio State comes into the season highly touted once again and will be immediately tested with a conference road matchup. The magnitude of the game, combined with limited viewing competition, availability of our other linear networks, and staffers and commentators that are not tied up with other events or game responsibilities resulted in the perfect scenario.”
In addition to the MegaCast presentation, the network will begin its pregame coverage from Indiana starting at 4:00 p.m on ESPN. An episode of College GameDay starts at 6:00 p.m. ET., the first time the traveling road show has been in Bloomington. In addition, there will also be a Field Pass presentation on ESPNU at 7 p.m., which serves as an alternate pregame show. The on-air talent for Field Pass (Tessitore, Joey Galloway, Adnan Virk and Jesse Palmer) will be inside the stadium and at field level.
Some viewers might wonder (as I did) why ESPN would not opt for Megacast coverage for Alabama-Florida State on Saturday Sept. 2. But ESPN’s Ed Placey, also a senior coordinating producer, said a Saturday regular season game poses specific challenges.
“Putting a MegaCast presentation on requires a lot of resources, including, production equipment, commentators and staffers,” Placey said. “Also, ideally we prefer to have multiple linear networks available outside of the traditional telecast. Taking that all into account, it would be difficult to pull off the MegaCast production on a regular season Saturday that has a full slate of games across our networks throughout the day.”
The traditional broadcast of the Ohio State-Indiana game on ESPN will be called by Dave Flemming (Chris Fowler has U.S. Open tennis duties), with analyst Kirk Herbstreit and Laura Rutledge on the sidelines.
THE NOISE REPORT
1. Over the years people have asked on social media for my favorite 30 for 30s, but it’s not something I’ve ever written beyond answering readers on social media. It’s a slow summer week in sports, and I figured I might not have another shot to lead a column with it. So on Sunday I listed my ranking of the best-ever 30 for 30s. Yours will no doubt look different.
2. NBC said Mike Tirico will become the fulltime voice of its Notre Dame Football package. He will be joined by analyst Doug Flutie and sideline reporter Kathryn Tappen. Tirico replaces Dan Hicks, who was the play-by-play voice for Notre Dame Football on NBC the past four seasons. Chris Simms, who has worked for Fox Sports and CBS Sports, joins the Notre Dame coverage as a studio analyst for the 2017 season.
2a. ESPN said Indiana is the 69th different school to host College GameDay and Bloomington is the 80th different city to host College GameDay. It is also the 38th Ohio State game from which College GameDay has originated, trailing only Alabama for appearances.
3. Episode 131 of The Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features a sports media roundtable featuring Chad Finn, the sports media writer and general columnist for the Boston Globe and Boston.com, and Sports Business Daily media writer John Ourand. On this podcast, we discuss Jay Cutler leaving Fox Sports for the Dolphins and what that means for Fox Sports; Disney’s plans for an ESPN OTT (over-the-top) streaming service and what the future of ESPN might look like; what happens if cable keeps shrinking and digital TV companies don’t invest in sports content; why Fox Sports has kept Katie Nolan off its airwaves; what ESPN will do in terms of replacing Dan Shulman; whether Pete Rose will stay employed by Fox Sports; whether stories about Colin Kaepernick drive eyeballs and page views; Chad’s battles with Boston-based WEEI Radio and whether he is a fawning profile writer; what a sports journalist should do when a subject or someone close to a subject compliments a piece you wrote; how often you should give an organization a heads up, if ever on a negative piece you are writing; and much more.
The podcast also features an interview with Dari Nowkhah, the lead host of the SEC Network and co-host of ESPN Radio’s weekly Dari and Mel Show. For this segment we discuss how Nowkhah approaches his role for SEC Now; whether SEC viewers expect him to be a fan of the conference; what SEC program has the most rabid fan; why he left Bristol to be the host of ESPNU; whether Nick Saban gets favorable treatment both locally and nationally; how his agent submitted his resume and tapes to ESPN without him knowing; being the son of an Iranian immigrant; losing his child (Hayden Michael Nowkhah) after 39 days and how he and his wife, Jenn, channeled that grief; the non-profit he and his wife are part of that financially assists families of children awaiting a life-saving organ transplant; the significance of the Alabama-Florida State opener, and much more.
You can subscribe to the podcast via Apple podcasts, Google Play and Stitcher.
4. The Pac-12 has hired Mark Shuken, the former CEO of DirecTV Sports Networks, to be the new president of the conference's cable networks.
5. Sports Business Daily assistant managing editor Austin Karp said CBS yesterday drew a 3.6 overnight for the final round of the PGA Championship, the lowest for the PGA Championship since 2008, when the event aired up against the Beijing Games and Padraig Harrington won. Karp noted the major cable news networks—MSNBC, CNN and Fox News—saw combined ratings in that 2:00-7:15 p.m. window jump 25% compared to the same weekend last year as news was still developing from Charlottesville.