In a win for viewers, ESPN will bring back Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi for their own Women’s Final Four MegaCast stream.
That’s according to this report from Amanda Christovich at Front Office Sports. Last year’s version was a wild success, featuring a relaxed atmosphere (including viral red Solo cup drinking) and plenty of insight from two basketball legends.
The Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi Megacast really continues to shine.
In between having on LeBron James and Doris Burke, they setup this interview with a Geno Auriemma which was basically an Auriemma soundboard that kept saying “100%”. pic.twitter.com/JkiwOF3g3q
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) April 4, 2022
ESPN clearly recognized what they had, and assuming everyone involved was interested and available, bringing it back this year was a no-brainer.
Via Front Office Sports, with plenty of on the record quotes from ESPN execs:
ESPN is bringing back the highly popular “Bird and Taurasi Show” as an alternate telecast to the Women’s Final Four, Front Office Sports has learned.
Three proper ESPN networks will be dedicated to in-game coverage. The show, which was so popular that it attracted a sponsor in AT&T, will be broadcast live from American Airlines Center during both semifinals and the championship game. Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi will host the “Manningcast”-style show on ESPN2 and ESPNU, with guests and game analysis.
Elevating women’s sports coverage is “our blueprint for how we move into the future,” Palmieri said.
The network had tried alternate telecasts for the past several years, but last year’s Bird and Taurasi Show was the first one that really clicked, Patricia Lowry, ESPN VP of production for women’s college basketball, told FOS.
The success of the ManningCast guaranteed ESPN and other networks would attempt to replicate that success in other settings. ESPN also has their own MegaCast production history with college football, which in some ways served as the first example of how all this could work.
There’s been one constant factor in whether they succeed or fail: the personalities involved. That’s the draw. It’s obviously why Peyton and Eli work on Monday nights, but it’s also why things like the coaches film room channel work despite a very different vibe. People who want to watch the game itself will watch the game itself, and they might also check out a bit of a simulcast stream.
One of the many risks of having Bill Walton on as a guest on a Megacast is he just may start a random story after the buzzer for halftime has gone off and you desperately need to cut to commercial. pic.twitter.com/a7hZG2bZLo
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) April 2, 2022
What makes things like Taurasi and Bird work, though, is that they’re creating buzz and events outside of the event itself. That’s what draws attention, and it makes events feel like EVENTS. It only works as well as the talent, though. Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, and Megan Rapinoe drinking on-air and chopping it up? Yes please. Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez doing a random game in May? Less demand there.
This is good news for viewers and for ESPN. As for the drinking, let’s go back to Christovich:
Even what the pair was drinking went viral — when they revealed they were sipping on Bud Light Black Cherry Hard Seltzers, Twitter asked why ESPN couldn’t provide a higher-quality beverage. (Lowry told FOS she doesn’t know what the pair will be drinking this year, and she doesn’t want to know, either.)
More good news!