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ESPN Reveals College Football Playoff Megacast Plans

ESPN is providing viewers with various broadcast options and implementing innovative technology throughout the New Year’s Six slate of Bowl games.

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ESPN College Football
Courtesy: ESPN

As the final year of the four-team College Football Playoff approaches, ESPN will bring viewers a variety of alternate broadcast presentations of the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Prudential and Allstate Sugar Bowl. These pivotal matchups, both of which take place on New Year’s Day, will determine the matchup for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Monday, Jan. 8.

The main telecast of the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Prudential between No. 1 Michigan and No. 4 Alabama will feature the lead ESPN Saturday Night Football broadcast team of play-by-play announcer Chris Fowler, color commentator Kirk Herbstreit and reporter Holly Rowe. Host of NFL Live and SEC Nation Laura Rutledge will also join the broadcast, continuing her year of serving as a reporter for both college and NFL games. Fans can also listen to the action on ESPN Radio with Joe Tessitore, Dusty Dvoracek and Quint Kessenich on the call. The local radio broadcast for both teams will also be available to sync with the ESPN broadcast through partnerships with college radio networks.

Pat McAfee will be on hand for the Field Pass with The Pat McAfee Show broadcast on ESPN2, which will feature the rest of the program’s cast along with other ESPN analysts, personalities and celebrities. The Rose Bowl Game, which takes place from Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif., kicks off at approximately 5 p.m. EST/2 p.m. PST on Monday, Jan. 1.

Later in the day, No. 2 Washington takes on No. 3 Texas in the Allstate Sugar Bowl from Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, La. The television broadcast for that game will feature play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough, color commentator Greg McElroy and reporters Molly McGrath and Katie George. ESPN Radio will have Marc Kestecher, Kelly Stouffer and Ian Fitzsimmons on its call of the game. Akin to the Rose Bowl, fans will be able to synchronize the audio from local radio broadcasts to the ESPN presentation. Field Pass will be on-site for this game featuring ESPN personalities Cole Cubelic, Harry Douglas and Sam Acho, along with former Texas Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy. The matchup will kick off on Monday, Jan. 1 at 8:45 p.m. EST/5:45 p.m. PST.

Although the specific configurations for each CFP Semifinal game remain unknown, both will equip innovative and powerful technology to enhance the game experience. Cameras will be installed inside all eight end zone pylons, along with on both sidelines at the first-down line. Referees will don cameras within their hats, while operators will utilize a wireless handheld camera to capture on-field celebrations. Moreover, there will also be goal post cams and goal line robotic cams, providing viewers with unique perspectives and vantage points. Fans can watch four different vantage points at once using the Command Center presentation on ESPNU, which will also implement real-time player and team statistics.

ESPNEWS will feature the SkyCast presentation, granting viewers the ability to watch the game above the action behind the offense. Replays from the main telecast will be included on this angle as well. The All-22 presentation will be available on the ESPN App, keeping all 22 players in the field of view at all times and synchronized to the ESPN Radio broadcast. ESPN App users will also be able to watch the pregame and halftime marching band performances through this presentation as well. Command Center and SkyCast presentations will also be available for the entire New Year’s Six slate of bowl games.

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Capital One Orange Bowl and Vrbo Fiesta Bowl will all be broadcast by ESPN. Additionally, fans can watch the entire slate of New Year’s Six bowl games at select U.S. movie theaters through the partnership between ESPN and the Theatre Sports Network.

Surrounding the College Football Playoff will be an exclusive series showcasing behind-the-scenes looks at the teams as they prepare to garner the championship prize. Inside the College Football Playoff makes its return on ESPN+ beginning on Friday, Dec. 22, with additional episodes available on the three Fridays thereafter previewing and recapping all of the action.

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NESN Bruins Announcer Jack Edwards Addresses Speech Slowdown Issues For First Time

“The way I see it, two things work to my disadvantage. The game is speeding up all the time. And I’m slowing down all the time.”

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Jack Edwards of NESN
Courtesy: NESN

Longtime NESN Boston Bruins play-by-play man Jack Edwards recently spoke to The Boston Globe and addressed an ongoing health issue. While Edwards says he’s been cleared of cancer, dementia, and a stroke, he is still slurring and slowing his words at an increasing rate. Edwards credits it to two primary factors:

“The way I see it, two things work to my disadvantage,” Edwards said to the Boston Globe. “The game is speeding up all the time. And I’m slowing down all the time.”

According to The Globe, this is the first time Edwards has spoken about his struggles publicly, mostly because of the mysticism surrounding his condition. It’s not related to any sort of accident, or serious disease or condition — and doctors have no formal diagnosis or medical term to give him. Edwards says he is in “robust” health and receives “superior” grades on intellect tests. But Edwards still struggles with his speech slowing down.

“It doesn’t fit in any slot,” Edwards said. “There have been a couple of guesses, but they haven’t made a definitive diagnosis and they’ve been working on me for a year and a half. It’s very frustrating, as you can imagine, for me to have this slowdown in my speech.”

At the behest of his daughter, Edwards began speech therapy following his struggle with reading the Declaration of Independence on July 4, something Edwards and his father have done each year. “The Declaration of Independence has quite a few unusual words,” says Edwards, “and a year and a half ago, I couldn’t process the words, and it’s not like it was unfamiliar. I’ve read it for, like, 20 years, 25 years.”

Edwards goes through 40-60 minutes of what he calls “exhaustive and exhausting” speech therapy exercises on non-game days but still finds time to freshen up on game days for about 10 minutes. He’s appreciative of the work his speech therapy team does with him every day.

“I thank all the people who are working on this problem and helping me, and they seem to feel and I anecdotally feel that I’m making incremental progress,” he says. “The brain is a funny thing, especially mine. It is still possible to train a 66½-year-old brain to do the same things you used to do in a different way. And that’s what we’re working on through speech therapy.”

While Edwards is optimistic, he is a realist and is treating his speech issues as an in-season injury. If it gets better, he will continue to serve as the Bruins’ play-by-play voice. If not, he offers the stark reality of his situation. “If I, or NESN, decide that I’m hurting the product or costing the fans an enjoyable experience, I will say goodbye. But we haven’t had any discussions like that.”

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Nielsen Custom Survey: Super Bowl LVIII Reached Estimated 210 Million Viewers

“The Super Bowl is singular across the television and media landscape not only in its unparalleled viewership, but because it is largely watched in group settings.”

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NFL Logo at Media Row 2023

A custom survey commissioned by the National Football League to Nielsen Media Research discovered that Super Bowl LVIII reached an estimated 210 million viewers, representing nearly two-thirds of Americans across CBS, Paramount+, Nickelodeon and Univision, along with CBS Sports, Univision and NFL digital properties, including NFL+. This represents a 4% increase compared to last year’s game figure of 202 million unique viewers reported through the Nielsen syndicated ratings service that measures viewers who tuned in for at least one minute of the game.

This survey, which was ordered to add to Nielsen’s audience measurement data and provide more insight into the total audience estimate for the league’s championship game, discovered that Super Bowl LVIII had an average minute audience of approximately 143 million viewers.

The survey encompassed 5,267 households and reviewed the size of viewership groups, location notwithstanding, and if they are larger than what is currently measured by Nielsen in the present day. NORC at the University of Chicago conducted the survey utilizing the AmeriSpeak panel.

“The Super Bowl is singular across the television and media landscape not only in its unparalleled viewership, but because it is largely watched in group settings,” Paul Ballew, chief data and analytics officer of the National Football League, said in a statement. “With that in mind, additional measurement is needed in order to have a complete picture of the total viewership of this special event and the results of this custom survey with Nielsen illustrate the true magnitude of the Super Bowl.”

Nielsen Media Research found that Super Bowl LVIII averaged nearly 124 million viewers across the aforementioned properties, rendering it the most-watched Super Bowl matchup of all time. The research firm is in the midst of expanding its national out-of-home panel as well which will bring its coverage to 100% of the portable people meter (PPM) technology footprint. Nielsen data recently demonstrated that NFL games encapsulated 93 of the top 100 most-watched television broadcasts throughout 2023.

“Nielsen understands the nuance of the Super Bowl, which historically has drawn the largest television audience of the year and includes unparalleled viewership from large groups of people, both in and out of homes,” Deirdre Thomas, chief product officer at Nielsen, said in a statement. “We are proud that the NFL partners with Nielsen to provide the best possible measurement of their programming, for the Super Bowl and throughout the season.

“Additionally, we’re excited about the expansion of our National Out-Of-Home panel, which we announced earlier this month, because it will enhance our ability to provide the most complete picture of the audience, especially for major events like the Super Bowl.”

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Report: Luke Donald To Join NBC Golf Coverage for Two Events

According to Sports Business Journal, Donald will join NBC’s coverage of the Cognizant Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational alongside Dan Hicks.

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Luke Donald after a golf swing
Courtesy: Wikipedia

NBC continues its quest to find a full-time golf analyst and will allegedly next try out former European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald to fill the role. According to Sports Business Journal, NBC is expected to announce the move this weekend.

SBJ reports Donald will join NBC’s coverage of the Cognizant Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational alongside Dan Hicks. The sometimes-active pro’s stock reportedly rose within NBC following Europe’s massive win over the U.S. in the Ryder Cup last September. He also brings star power as a former world number one and PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Donald is the latest name to join NBC as a golf analyst since the network laid off Paul Azinger in November. Donald will directly succeed Jim “Bones” Mackay, who will call the Mexico Open this weekend, who himself succeeded former Tour pros like Brandel Chamblee and Kevin Kisner. At one point, Geoff Ogilvy was rumored to be an option for NBC, but with each passing analyst, that thought seems more likely to remain in the rumor mill.

The Cognizant Classic takes place from Feb. 29–Mar. 3 at the PGA National Members Club in Palm Springs Beach, FL. The Arnold Palmer Invitational will air Mar. 7–10, 2024 at Palmer’s Bay Hill Golf Course in Arnold, MD.

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