The College Football National Championship Game featuring Alabama vs. Clemson will air on Monday, January 11 and that means the return of the popular Megacast.
If you want to watch the traditional broadcast with Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox and Tom Rinaldi without any of the bells and whistles on the other platforms, you can watch them on ESPN starting at 8:30 p.m. ET. But if you prefer to see the other networks, you have the remote and you’ll be able to switch away.
Some features return like the Film Room which worked so well, ESPN Voices which turned out to be a food fest, the Finebaum Film Room which is a sitcom in itself, Command Center, and Sounds of the Game.
There are some new features which could either be totally fantastic or extremely disastrous. Let’s break down what you’ll see. We begin with what you’re familiar from previous Megacasts:
- Film Room (ESPN2): From ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT, analysts Brian Griese and Chris Spielman, along with Florida head coach Jim McElwain and other additional guests, will provide in-depth analysis of the game as it happens from a film room equipped with multiple camera angles, clicker technology and telestration. One of the best features of the Megacast, last year’s edition had Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, Pittsburgh’s Pat Narduzzi and Nebraska’s Mike Riley, and it worked very well.
- ESPN Voices (ESPNEWS): Live from Los Angeles, ESPN personalities watch the Crimson Tide-Tigers matchup unfold in a living room-type atmosphere. ESPN says Teddy Atlas, Michelle Beadle, Jay Bilas, Taylor Twellman and Marcellus Wiley will be the main group, but additional guests could be added. We’re hoping we get to see Barry Melrose and this suit:
- Finebaum Film Room (SEC Network): Paul Finebaum will be joined by SEC Network analysts Greg McElroy and Booger McFarland as well as Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema. According to ESPN, they will watch the game “at a location near University of Phoenix Stadium” to provide instant analysis and reaction plus the best part, taking live calls throughout the game so expect plenty of reaction from Phyllis.
- Sounds of the Game (ESPN Classic and ESPN3): This will be an announcer-free feed with stadium and field audio enhanced through microphones positioned throughout the stadium. The public address announcer will play an important part here as will referee calls. This is the feed to watch for the pregame entertainment and halftime bands.
- Command Center (ESPN Goal Line): Features the ESPN Radio call from Mike Tirico, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe and Joe Schad, this will have a full-time split screen application showing the live game action, along with immediate replays of every play, isolated camera feeds of both head coaches, enhanced statistics and real time drive charts.
- Home Town Radio (ESPN3): Fans can watch separate feeds with the Alabama and Clemson home radio calls along with “a customized viewing experience that includes full time isolated shots of head coaches and star players.” Alabama’s radio team will have Eli Gold, Phil Savage, and Chris Stewart on the call while the Clemson radio team is Don Munson, Rodney Williams and Patrick Sapp.
- Data Center (ESPN3): Will include significant on-screen graphic content ranging from analytics, real time drive charts, win probability updates, curated social media reaction and more.
- Spider Cam (ESPN3): A continuous feed of the camera that maneuvers above the field and will provide a behind-the-offense look at the game action.
- Student Section (ESPN3): Cameras showing students, bands, mascots and cheerleaders of each team.
Now to the new features:
- Homer Telecast (ESPNU): Joe Tessitore will serve as moderator with Clemson’s all-time leading passer Tajh Boyd and former Alabama center Barrett Jones as they “analyze” the game “with a decidedly partisan view towards their alma maters.” Will there be smack talk between the two? You’ll have to watch and find out.
- Mock Replay Booth (ESPN3): This feed has some real potential. ESPN says this will be an “authentic recreation of the replay booth experience (that) will give an inside look at the review process in which replay officials review every play of the game, determine which plays are subject to further review and then what happens during an official replay stoppage.” This should be interesting as ESPN will have a current ACC replay official and a current SEC replay communicator and they’ll be joined by current ESPN rules analyst Doug Rhoads. If this works, look for it to be aired on a TV network next year.
- Pylon Cam (ESPN3):
We’ve seen this work extremely well on Monday Night Football. This feed will be a continuous stream of the cameras from the eight pylons surrounding the field, both at the goal lines and this has potential, from the backlines of the end zones. ESPN says, “The position of the ball on the field will determine which 12 of the 24 available camera feeds will be displayed live along with a featured replay box offering the best pylon camera angle available of any key plays.”
So the Megacast, which garnered a record 34 million viewers for last year’s championship, will have plenty of opportunities to break that number with the vast amount of feeds for this year’s game.