Home College Football Differences in Pro, College Playoff Broadcasts Are Stark

Differences in Pro, College Playoff Broadcasts Are Stark


It’s rather fascinating sometimes to see how cable TV, and ESPN in particular, can be so big and yet at the same time so small.

Look at the difference between how the network will present the College Football Playoff final Monday night (5:30) between Clemson and Alabama and contrast it to how it will present its lone NFL playoff game Saturday (1:30 p.m.) between Kansas City and Houston.

For the third straight year (which goes back to include the final BCS championship), ESPN will pull out as many stops as it can find to cover the college football final. It’s called the Megacast.

The “traditional” telecast will be on ESPN with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit calling the game with Heather Cox and Tom Rinaldi on the sidelines. But there will be no fewer than 14 alternate productions available as well.

Most popular among these has been the Film Room on ESPN2. Analysts Brian Griese and Chris Spielman, along with Florida coach Jim McElwain, will present in-depth analysis from a film room equipped with multiple angles.

The Homer Telecast on ESPNU will have Joe Tessitore will host the interplay between two rather partisan participants: Tajh Boyd, Clemson’s all-time leading passer, and Barrett Jones, former Alabama center and three-time national champion.

On ESPN Classic (and also streaming on ESPN3 if you don’t get Classic), the Sounds of the Game telecast may be the best of the bunch: no announcers. Dozens of microphones placed around the stadium will be heightened on the channel, along with the public address announcer and the referee’s calls. This is also where you can see the on-field halftime entertainment and band performances.

Other streaming specialty telecasts on ESPN3 will include:

Command Center, with a full-time split screen showing live game action along with immediate replays of every play, isolated shots of the head coaches, enhanced statistics and real-time drive charts.

Mock Replay Booth, a re-creation of the replay booth will show viewers the video review process in which every play is examined. Replay officials from the SEC and ACC will man the booth.

Home Town Radio, with separate feeds featuring the radio broadcasts of the two teams.

Data Center, with enhanced statistics, analytics, drive charts, win probability updates and social media reaction.

Spider Cam, with a continuous feed of the overhead camera.

A student section camera, focusing on fan reaction.

And even a Pylon Cam, a continuous stream of the small cameras inside the eight pylons in the end zones.

ESPN Radio is also broadcasting the game with Mike Tirico, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe and Joe Schad. That audio will also be used on the Command Center stream.

Definitely a big deal, right? You get the feeling it will be hard to escape the College Football Playoff, right? Well, compare that to ESPN’s NFL wild-card game.

ESPN, of course, shows “Monday Night Football” every week, but the NFL decided if ESPN was going to be given a playoff game, cable TV wasn’t good enough. So the Chiefs-Texans game is also going to be simulcast on ABC.

It’ll be the first NFL game on ABC since Super Bowl XL in February 2006.

Since Los Angeles doesn’t have an NFL team (yet), we may not be familiar with the policy the NFL has on cable TV games. When ESPN or NFL Network shows a game on cable, the game is also televised on an over-the-air channel in each local market.

Apparently, the NFL hasn’t quite bought into the premise yet that cable TV is so pervasive that it is sufficient for televising playoff games.

No matter how many different ways it may have to show them.

Republished with permission by Jim Carlisle, author, and the publisher Ventura County Star (vcstar.com).


Sports Reporter/Columnist


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