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ESPN Plans Megacast For Tonight’s CFB Title Game

Jason Barrett

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When ESPN uses its resources and scale to enhance the viewing experience for a major sporting event—as the company has done for the past two years with coverage of college football’s national title game—the results are often tremendous. Smartly, the network will once again feature Megacast coverage for the matchup between Alabama and Clemson in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 11 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Along with the traditional broadcast airing on ESPN—Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will call the game, Heather Cox is assigned to Clemson, Tom Rinaldi will report on Alabama, and rules expert Dave Cutaia and medical expert Dr. Jerry Punch also will be available—the company will offer 14 alternate productions across ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, and ESPN3. There is also ESPN Radio’s broadcast, and all Megacast feeds will be available on WatchESPN.

Over the past two years the best Megacast option has been the Film Room segment, which has shown ESPN at its innovative, understated best. The concept: Get a group of current college football coaches together at ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters to watch the game in real time via the regular broadcast, an All-22 camera and coach clicker technology. This year’s Film Room will once again air on ESPN2, with analysts Brian Griese and Chris Spielman as the hosts. Florida coach Jim McElwain will be one of the coaches.

The other Megacast elements:

•Homers Telecast (ESPNU): This new Megacast feature consists of a broadcast with analysts who will side with each of the teams. Joe Tessitore will call play-by-play with former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and former Alabama center Barrett Jones serving as the “homer” game analysts. Kenny Mayne will be on the sidelines. Dave Pasch will also be a part of the telecast.

•ESPN Voices (ESPNEWS): A group of ESPN personalities and celebrities will watch the game from a living room-type atmosphere. Teddy Atlas, Michelle Beadle, Jay Bilas, Marcellus Wiley and Taylor Twellman are expected to be part of the show.

•Sounds of the Game (ESPN Classic): This option will not have broadcasters. Instead, you can watch the telecast amplified by more than 100 microphones positioned throughout the stadium in addition to the public address announcer. The halftime performances will be shown in their entirety on this channel.

•Finebaum Film Room (SEC Network): SEC Network host Paul Finebaum along with SEC Network analysts Greg McElroy and Booger McFarland will watch the game from near the stadium and provide instant, live reaction. The show will also take live calls throughout the game. McElroy was excellent in this spot last year. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema will be part of this telecast.

•Spanish-Language Call (ESPN Deportes): Lalo Varela, Pablo Viruega, Bernardo Osun, and Carlos Nava call the game in Spanish.

•Command Center (ESPN Goal Line): A full-time, split-screen application showing the live game action, replays of every play, isolated camera feeds of both head coaches, enhanced statistics, and the ESPN Radio broadcast call.

•Home Town Radio (ESPN3): The ESPN telecast will be available with both the Alabama and Clemson home radio broadcasts serving as the audio. Alabama’s radio team is Eli Gold, Phil Savage, and Chris Stewart. The Clemson radio team is Don Munson, Rodney Williams and Patrick Sapp.

• Pylon Cam (ESPN3): A continuous stream from cameras at the eight pylons surrounding the field, both at the goal lines and the backlines of the end zones. The position of the ball will determine which 12 of the 24 available camera feeds will be displayed. There will also be a featured replay box offering the best pylon camera angle available of any key plays.

• Student Section (ESPN3): There will be cameras in the student sections (featuring 500 students from each school) as well as on the cheerleaders, bands and mascots of each team.

•Mock Replay Booth (ESPN3): This feature will mimic a traditional replay booth inside a college football stadium. Current ACC Replay Official Ralph Pickett and current SEC Replay Communicator Ben Oldham will take viewers through the full process of reviewing every play from their recreated replay booth set up in Bristol. They will be joined by former ACC Coordinator of Officials and current ESPN Rules Expert Doug Rhoads.

•Data Center (ESPN3): This option will consist of on-screen graphic content including analytics, curated social media reaction and more.

•Spider Cam (ESPN3): A continuous feed from the camera that roams the stadium from above the field.

•ESPN Radio will have Mike Tirico calling play-by-play, Todd Blackledge as the game analyst, Holly Rowe on the Alabama sideline and Joe Schad on the Clemson sideline. Rules expert Bill LeMonnier will also be available.

Read more at Sports Illustrated where this article was originally published

Sports TV News

FOX Doubles Ad Price For Premiere US World Cup Matches

FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of USA/England.

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The 2022 World Cup is underway and the opener received a gigantic ratings increase for FOX Sports. Now, according to a report from Front Office Sports, the network has doubled its ad price for the USA match versus England.

USA/England will air in a lucrative window, at 2:00 PM ET on Black Friday, and FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of the match. That price, according to Front Office Sports reporters Michael McCarthy and Doug Greenberg, is double what the network had asked for from advertisers for other matches.

While the event opener saw a sharp increase, the first match featuring the United States saw a decline from previous World Cup openers for the country. 11.71 million watched the match in the US between FOX Sports and Telemundo. In 2014, 11.1 million watched on ESPN and in 2010 13 million watched the first US match on ABC.

Analysists have predicted FOX Sports could garner nearly $125 million in ad revenue for the duration of the tournament.

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Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz Announcing World Cup, NFL Thanksgiving Games For 18 Straight Hours Thursday

With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.

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With the World Cup happening at an unprecedented time, there were bound to be scheduling conflicts. The conflicts for Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz, however, might be the real unprecedented nature of the event being played in November.

Gurwitz works on Telemundo’s coverage of the World Cup while calling matches as the secondary play-by-play announcer. Beginning at 11:00 AM in Doha, Gurwitz will work the network’s coverage of the event.

But as the soccer day turns to tonight, Gurwitz will call Telemundo’s broadcast of the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings game from Qatar. With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.

He will also do the feat again on Sunday, as he’ll broadcast World Cup matches for the network during the day and then announce the Packers and Eagles game for Sunday Night Football.

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Kevin Burkhardt: ‘Honor To Be In People’s Homes’ During Thanksgiving Broadcast

“There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool.”

Ricky Keeler

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On Thanksgiving, Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen will call their first Thanksgiving Day game for FOX when the New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys (4:30 PM ET). It’s been a memorable year for Burkhardt and Olsen in their first year as the A broadcast team for FOX that will end in the duo calling the Super Bowl in February.

Burkhardt was a guest on The Season with Peter Schrager podcast this week and talked about the honor of getting the chance to be on the call for a Thanksgiving Day game.

“The whole job is big and we are doing big games every week. There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool. One of them was Dallas-Green Bay, which turned out to be epic a couple of weeks ago.

“The playoffs and the Super Bowl will be great, but Thanksgiving Day. Growing up in a football family, it was kind of eating around both games. Catch the early game, halftime, go throw the football in the street, eat the meal between games, then the Cowboys game comes on, you watch that. Maybe halftime you watch or maybe you throw the football again. Watch the rest of the game, you have dessert after the game. That was the day.

“It is an honor because you are in a lot of people’s homes every week. I feel like you really are in people’s homes…. You are kind of like hugging everybody. I think it’s beyond awesome, I really do.”

Burkhardt mentioned to Schrager that he and Olsen knew they had big shoes to fill after taking over for Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (both now at ESPN) and it felt like walking in to a new job, but the A crew at FOX helped them and he liked that he and Olsen got to do it together.

“It’s been awesome. It really has. When you go into a situation like this, Joe and Troy were there for 2 decades, that’s a long time. People have long-standing relationships. Even though I’ve been at FOX for 9 years and Greg was there last year, we are the new guys essentially.

“You walk in, you don’t know how they are going to react to you, what they are going to think of you, if they think you are any good and all that stuff. From Day 1, it was like welcome to the family, we love you. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s been awesome. It felt like we’ve just fit right in. I think there’s been some cool symmetry, the fact that Greg and I got to do it together because we have such a bond.

“The fact that we got to jump in together I think has kind of been fun and helped us both because he knows me really well and I know him really well. Then, it was just getting everyone else to know us and vice versa.”

The one thing that Burkhardt did have to adjust to was a different style of show and that each production team has different viewpoint and creativity.

“The crew I’ve been on my whole life with Pete Macheska and Artie Kempner, they do a different show than Z (Richie Zyontz) and Russo (Rich Russo) do it. It’s not good, bad, or indifferent. Everyone has different viewpoints and creativity. I think it was just getting used to each other in terms of that, but it’s felt like I’ve worked with them for 25 years. It’s felt seamless. It’s felt fun.”

Even though Burkhardt is now the lead NFL play-by-play voice for FOX, that doesn’t mean he is going to change how he does a game.

“I’m not going to change my style or who I am. I’m not saying I’m not open to critiques and wanting to get better and to get coached. The basis of what I do and how I do it, I’m not going to change that now because I’m on the A crew. They liked me enough to put me here, so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. Maybe tweaks here and there, but if I radically changed now, I’d be a moron.” 

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