The “Voices” broadcast has been one of the most entertaining parts of ESPN’s Megacast over the last few years, featuring popular ESPN personalities hanging out in a house party-esque atmosphere during the CFP National Championship. The 2017 edition was particularly entertaining, with Bill Walton dressed as Uncle Sam and saying very Bill Walton things.
For tonight’s Alabama-Georgia game, ESPN changed up the “Voices” format, which is airing on ESPNU. Rather than just the one group of ESPN personalities, there are five, and they’re all shown on their own box on the ESPNU screen (along with the ESPN broadcast of the game, making for six boxes on the screen).
There’s the “Cool Room”, “ESPN at LA Live”, SportsCenter, Dan Le Batard Show, and NFL Live (which doesn’t seem necessary with the Coaches’ Film Room on ESPNEWS).
Curious how many are tuning into these other feeds pic.twitter.com/l92O7xku4v
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 9, 2018
The idea is neat with this much variety, but it isn’t going all that smoothly (and doesn’t feature Bill Walton this time).
They replaced Bill Walton with a six-screen disaster on "ESPN Voices" 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁
— Adam Jacobi (@Adam_Jacobi) January 9, 2018
Want to go on record as saying ESPN really fucked up the Voices part of the megacast this year. That was my favorite feed last year. Trying to do the most this year. ?
— Sawl-E (@sawley_) January 9, 2018
My favorite MegaCast is ESPN Voices. Don't like the new format of having a million voices.
— Jessie (??????) (@JMKTV) January 9, 2018
Was going to watch Voices for #NationalChampionship MegaCast, but there are TOO MANY SCREENS! I wish it was just one, and not oscillating among five different sets… https://t.co/KMYlnleQy1
— ? Sameer Malla ? (@skinsballr) January 9, 2018
One issue is that the viewer can’t even control which of the five feeds they’re able to listen to on ESPNU; the feed is just randomly changed in the middle of conversations.
Is it possible to pick which one you want rather than it rotate?
— Rob Stedman (@rwstedman) January 9, 2018
It’s hard to tell who’s talking on each feed if you’re watching on TV, since the feeds are in these tiny boxes. And it’s even more difficult to tell who’s talking when the feed constantly changes (especially if you’re not paying attention to the TV screen the whole time).
The @ESPN Megacast is like when all of the voices in your head start talking to you at once pic.twitter.com/oicfmhFYKn
— Tom Morgan (@TMorgan985) January 9, 2018
Had it on for a couple minutes and I was confused as to who was talking.
— Jen Babish (@JBabsSportsChic) January 9, 2018
And here we have all five feeds talking at the same time:
The separate feeds are available on the WatchESPN app, but many users tweeted about buffering issues and the delay of those feeds (along with all 20 feeds of the Megacast).
Is there ONE that isn’t buffering and freezing? https://t.co/qthAo705Os
— Tyler Duffy (@tyduffy) January 9, 2018
And they are all buffering at the same time
— W. (@Wills518) January 9, 2018
Live look pic.twitter.com/Ztus1r63S7
— Ryan (@RyanAU2827) January 9, 2018
And 0/20 have a reliable feed. Awesome. ?
— Jess (@mommy2eg) January 9, 2018
How many of them work? None for me. Regardless of wifi or lte, regardless of device. Terrible.
— Jacob Borrett (@jacobborrett) January 9, 2018
Yup and 0 work. pic.twitter.com/xK3cjfPdJU
— Jim McClintock (@pimpino) January 9, 2018
So, the recommendation here would be to go back to the previous “Voices” format on next year’s Megacast (and ideally with Bill Walton back).
And if ESPN really wants to stick with the current format, there should at least be an interactive option for fans to be able to pick their feed on the channel, like DirecTV users can for game mix channels on sports packages and events (such as NFL Sunday Ticket and The Masters).
Regardless, at least there’s always the Film Room channel option, which remains fantastic.