ESPN has obviously done a lot of innovating when it comes to their College Football Playoff presentation.

Features like alternate broadcasts with coaches breaking down plays live have served to not only provide viewers with more options, but to help lend events like the CFP even more weight. This year they’re adding another way for fans to watch all of the CFP contests, but this time it’s not a new camera technology or streaming option.

ESPN and movie theater chain Cinemark announced a partnership that will see select markets offer theater screenings of the semifinal Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl games on December 31st, and then again for the championship game on January 10th. If anything, this move is a nod to a different era in sports broadcasting altogether, when theaters would show closed-circuit feeds of championship boxing matches.

From ESPN’s announcement:

“We are thrilled to offer an incredible opportunity for college football fans to gather and cheer on their teams in our immersive auditoriums with larger-than-life screens and surround sound,” said Justin McDaniel, Cinemark SVP Global Content. “This collaboration with ESPN brings together the best in college football and exhibition for a one-of-a-kind viewing experience that will make people feel like they are part of the on-field action.”

The showings will include pregame and postgame coverage, as well.

Not every Cinemark theater is offering the option, but many are, including markets outside the four home areas. (The full list is included in ESPN’s release.) This trend has been returning in recent years; the NFL and AMC partnered on out-of-market games in 2019 and revisited that this season.

Usually the winter holiday season is a major one for movie theaters, but the pandemic has obviously changed that. Spider-Man: Far From Home might be shattering box office records, but there isn’t the usual glut of blockbusters and Oscar hopefuls crowding out multiplex screens this year, and theaters are likely more and more open to anything that will get people in the door and buying concessions.


About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.