The BCS Megacast at ESPN was named one of our best moments of the year in sports media – and deservedly so. For in the revolutionary idea of blanket coverage and multiple viewing options for one game, ESPN brought fans a new way to watch a game. That kind of positive and purposeful innovation should be applauded. And it led to other networks providing multiple viewing options – Turner/CBS produced teamcasts for the Final Four and Fox produced an analytical feed for the MLB Postseason – although not quite to the depth and tonnage of the Megacast.
As we approach the end of the college football season, the question of whether or not ESPN would provide another Megacast has been bouncing around our brains. Thankfully for viewers, the answer is a resounding yes.
According to Richard Deitsch at Sports Illustrated, the Megacast will return for the College Football Playoff Championship Game. In addition to the critically acclaimed Film Room that aired last year on ESPNEWS featuring current college football coaches and ESPN analysts breaking down the game in real-time, ESPN will offer the following viewing options:
• Other CFP Megacast platforms include “ESPN Voices,” which will be similar to last year’s BCS Title Talk. That platform (which played flat last year) had a rotating group of ESPN staffers discussing the game in real time.
• There will be a platform featuring only the natural sounds of the game and coverage of the halftime performances by each band.
• A new Megacast option with great potential: “Off the Ball” will feature former players and coaches, and current ESPN analysts, focusing on the plays away from the ball, including offensive and defensive line play, wide receiver-defensive back matchups, and coaching strategy.
• There will be a “DataCenter” featuring analytics, curated social media reaction and more.
• ESPN will have a channel called “Command Center” with enhanced statistics utilizing a split screen application with live game action and immediate replays of every play. The coverage will use the ESPN Radio broadcast call.
• There will be a platform where viewers can watch the title game from the above stadium“SpiderCam” angle.
• For those who love crowd shots, there will be a dedicated “Taco Bell Student Section” featuring a camera in the student section of each team.
In addition, ESPN will air another Finebaum Film Room for the Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Ohio State as they did for the Iron Bowl earlier this season. If Alabama advances to the title game and represents the SEC, you can expect it to happen again and be yet another feed for the Megacast.
Keep in mind that with last year’s Megacast 98% of fans chose to stick with the main broadcast feed on ESPN instead of choosing an alternative method. While that’s obviously a huge percentage that stayed away from the Megacast options, I’m glad to see it hasn’t dissuaded ESPN from moving forward with the idea yet again. With this being the second edition and increased awareness about the Megacast, it’s my hope that more viewers decide to check out some of the various options at their disposal to see the game in a new and more insightful way. I know that last year as I was bouncing around the various feeds I eventually found and stayed with the excellent BCS Film Room.
It would be wise for ESPN to put the Film Room on ESPN2 and make it the centerpiece of the Megacast. Simply put, it was some of the best and smartest sports broadcasts in the history of the medium. To see such a hardcore focus on X’s and O’s in real-time with some brilliant football minds was an enlightening and enjoyable experience and almost made the stakes of a championship feel secondary. This year’s lineup will be quite intriguing – perhaps top-shelf coaches will see it as a recruiting opportunity to get some airtime in front of a national audience.
It’s also encouraging to see new options this year as ESPN continues the mindset of innovation. In particular, the “off the ball” and “command center” channels sound promising.
The Megacast concept is ESPN at its best. Seeing the network put its unmatched amount of resources towards serving fans and giving them an impressive supply of viewing options is always an encouraging sight. Hopefully it’s something ESPN will consider doing more of in the future and not just for the college football championship game.