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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

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Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque: WWE-Netflix Deal is a ‘Game-Changing Moment’

“When we’re not thinking about business at hand now, we’re thinking about those moments, so in the fall as the shows shift around and once we get to Netflix – Netflix is a completely different animal.”

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Paul "Triple H" Levesque
Courtesy: World Wrestling Entertainment

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) is bringing Raw to Netflix beginning in January 2025 in a deal that is reportedly worth $5 billion over 10 years. Netflix reportedly has the option to opt out of the agreement after the first five years and extend the deal for an additional 10 years. As a result, Raw will be moving away from NBCUniversal platforms and cable television as a whole for the first time in 31 years, presenting an opportunity for WWE to continue innovating its presentation in a new way. NBCUniversal-owned USA Network, however, will begin broadcasting SmackDown beginning this October. Paul “Triple H” Levesque, the chief content officer of WWE, was asked by Ty Schmit of The Pat McAfee Show if the company is thinking about what will change with the new presentation of Raw on Netflix.

Levesque appeared on the program following the announcement that WWE had agreed to a deal with Indiana Sports Corp. that will bring WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Royal Rumble to Indianapolis. Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, will host all three premium live events that will begin with Royal Rumble on Feb. 1, 2025. Other WWE properties, including Raw, SmackDown, NXT and WWE Live Events will take place from arenas across the state of Indiana, including Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Evansville, during the partnership. As Raw prepares to move to Netflix next year, Levesque revealed that the company is projecting the capabilities that the new partnership will allow.

“When we’re not thinking about business at hand now, we’re thinking about those moments, so in the fall as the shows shift around and once we get to Netflix – Netflix is a completely different animal,” Levesque said. “It’s a streaming service. How are commercials going to work? How are breaks going to work? What’s the length of time? What are the restrictions [and] what are not restrictions?”

Levesque mentioned how there are times when FOX has had to cut the audio and/or video when instances occur that could violate FCC broadcasting rules and regulations. McAfee believed that he was referencing when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had the crowd engage in a call-and-response chant calling Austin Theory an “a**hole.”

“The Rock comes in and you sort of kind of can’t tell The Rock what to do – what are we going to tell him – so he does what he does, but we won’t have those issues [on] Netflix,” Levesque said. “The ability to be live globally; the ability to have everything seen all at once everywhere, it’s a game-changing moment, and I think in many ways – not to disparage other partners because we want to be everywhere, but that’s sort of where the world is heading, right, is streaming services.”

Prognosticating towards the future of the Raw presentation, Levesque believes sports entities are going to be watching how the WWE and Netflix agreement materializes. As it pertains to the business logistics of the deal, he expects to have leagues watching what they will be doing, acknowledging that the NFL also reached an agreement with Netflix to broadcast Christmas Day games.

“Everybody from live content is very thankful you guys did a deal with Netflix for a weekly live show,” McAfee said. “Just want to let you know that.”

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John Anderson to Join University of Missouri Faculty After Leaving SportsCenter

“Why wouldn’t you want to go play for the Yankees? That’s what Mizzou is.”

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Photo of John Anderson of ESPN from the Missouri School of Journalism
Photo Courtesy: Missouri School of Journalism

John Anderson, who announced in March that he would leave ESPN’s SportsCenter when his contract runs out at the end of the month, has found his landing spot. He will be joining the faculty at his alma mater, the University of Missouri. The Missouri School of Journalism said Anderson will be the school’s Endowed Chair in Radio and Television Journalism and will begin with the spring semester in January 2025.

Anderson, who joined ESPN in 1999 does plan to continue covering certain events, but after 25 years he thought it was time to stop doing ESPN’s flagship show. His final SportsCenter is scheduled for Friday, June 28.

    “My contract runs out at ESPN at the end of June,” Anderson said on his podcast back in March. “I have decided that that will be the end. I’m going to leave the company. I’m going to sort of retire from ‘SportsCenter.’ I’m going to get to do a few track-and-field things, I’m going to get to continue to do the Boston Marathon and the New York Marathon – which I love – and some NCAA track meets and some SEC stuff.

    “I am incredibly excited about that. It’s been a good run…I feel like it’s been a good run. The operation has changed. I don’t know that it’s passed me by, but it’s taken its toll and I still want to be able to do the best shows that I can, and I don’t know that if in years 26 or 27 I have the stamina to do it again.”

    About his new role, Anderson said in a release from the school, “Why wouldn’t you want to go play for the Yankees? That’s what Mizzou is. If you’re going to go play, why not go play for the team with all the world titles? I could not have thought of a better post-ESPN landing spot.”

    Anderson said he comes from a long line of educators. “My grandparents were teachers, and my mother, being raised by those people, had respect for teachers. Two of my uncles taught math. That sort of trickled down to me,” he said.

    “John has kept fans and aspiring sports journalists in the know for more than two decades, and I’m so excited that he has chosen to bring that experience back to his alma mater for the benefit of new generations of students,” said David Kurpius, dean of the School of Journalism said in a release.

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    ‘Foul Territory’ to Air Live on Bally Sports RSNs as Part of New Partnership

    “We are thrilled to partner with Bally Sports to bring Foul Territory to an even wider audience.”

    Barrett Sports Media

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    Foul Territory Logo
    Courtesy: Make Plays Media

    The Foul Territory program has agreed to a new linear and streaming partnership with the Bally Sports regional networks (RSNs) that will launch on Monday, June 24. Make Plays Media, which is the parent company of Foul Territory and several other shows within the network of shows, will air its digital program from 1 to 3 p.m. EST on the Bally Sports RSNs and the company app. The program will also work with Bally Sports to present exclusive guests, unique content and more, which will accompany the live game broadcasts across the Bally Sports portfolio of networks.

    “We are thrilled to partner with Bally Sports to bring Foul Territory to an even wider audience,” Marc Weiner, chief executive officer of Make Plays Media, said in a statement. “Bally Sports has the largest daily baseball audience in the country and we can’t wait to work with our new partners to bring FT’s real baseball talk to their passionate fan base live every day.”

    The Foul Territory program launched last March and features a roster of former players that provide their insights and opinions to the show, including A.J. Pierzynski, Todd Frazier and Erik Kratz. Scott Braun hosts the show, which frequently features guest appearances by MLB players, managers and general managers. While Foul Territory will now be live every day on the Bally Sports RSNs, the show will still be available across social and audio platforms.

    Over the last several months, the Foul Territory Network of programs has expanded with new offerings dedicated to the Los Angeles Dodgers (Dodgers Territory), Atlanta Braves (Hammer Territory) and Chicago Cubs (North Side Territory). Ken Rosenthal, baseball reporter and insider, also hosts his own program, Fair Territory, that covers news and issues around the sport each week. Rosenthal also contributes to the Foul Territory program as well in addition to working with FOX Sports and The Athletic.

    The Bally Sports regional networks, which are owned by Diamond Sports Group, has the linear broadcasting rights to 12 Major League Baseball teams. Diamond Sports Group has been in Ch. 11 bankruptcy proceedings for over a year and is approaching a confirmation hearing in late-July. The company was unable to reach a renewed distribution agreement with Comcast Corporation, resulting in the channels not being on the service for more than a month.

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