First off: congratulations to THE Ohio State Buckeyes on their win in the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship Game. It was an impressive result for the fourth-seeded Buckeyes, led by third-string quarterback Cardale Jones. Ohio State fans were able to watch the victory in one of 12 (12!) different ways through ESPN television channels and WatchESPN. I took the time to watch every single feed I could (curse you, tiered cable!) for at least a little while, in part because there were just so freaking many! Since I spent more time on the televised feeds, I will focus on those, though I do have thoughts on all of the different ways I watched the Buckeye victory.
Traditional Telecast: The ESPN feed of the game was very good, but there was nothing adventurous about it. For people like my father, this was perfect since there were no bells and whistles. Clearly he was not alone based on the 18.5 rating on ESPN alone. I like the work of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, but with so many different ways to watch the game, I felt that the main telecast was kind of boring.
Spanish Telecast: I could not watch this feed because I do not get ESPN Deportes. It’s a shame because I’m a Spanish major and I would have been able to give a legitimate critique of the broadcast. I wish ESPN could have allowed for WatchESPN use of this feed for people with most ESPN networks aside from Deportes.
Film Room: The analysis had an “inside baseball” feel to it because of all the coaches breaking down the film. My big disappointment was with Dan Mullen, the Mississippi State coach, for dominating the conversation every time I turned on ESPN2. His analysis was fine, but there was no reason he should have been dominating the conversation, especially considering he is not a full-time ESPN employee with a ton of media experience. I think that a single ESPN analyst hosting and mediating between a few coaches would have worked better than The Dan Mullen Experience I watched last night. It’s a shame because the Film Room was the most promising part of the Megacast.
ESPN Voices: Did John Skipper just pull random names out of a hat for this feed? It had that feel between a baseball analyst (Aaron Boone), a college basketball analyst (Jay Bilas), a hockey analyst (Barry Melrose), and Michael Wilbon (Michael Wilbon). That said, the idea has some promise because of the “living room” vibe it gave off. The social feed was a nice touch as well. But when the conversation drifted far away from sports – such as Melrose talking about Sons of Anarchy – it lost me. Maybe if ESPN has a more football-focused panel, this channel will improve. Then again, I’m not so sure anything could improve upon this (courtesy Screengrabber):
Off the Ball: If you thought the Film Room was over your head, the ESPNews feed would be like a completely different language. It isn’t for everyone because a lot of fans do not appreciate what happens away from the ball, but the analysis was solid and overall twitter reaction was positive, especially for fans who preferred an “All 22” view of the game. Personally, this channel didn’t do much for me.
Sounds of the Game: It was the exact same broadcast as ESPN, except with amplified field sounds and no broadcast. I think that this feed would make sense in a packed bar or similar venue because the commentary is already useless when people are talking and cheering. It’s a simplistic way to watch the game if you don’t want to be bothered by Fowler or Herbie.
Command Center: I do not subscribe to ESPN Goal Line so I could not watch this channel, though it sounds like a dream come true with split screens, replays, and no commercials. The only weird part is that this feed used the ESPN Radio call of the game as opposed to the ESPN feed. I have no clue if this made a difference because I could not watch the game this way.
SpiderCam: This was a worse version of Sounds of the Game because of the single camera angle. In 2015, there is little reason to watch a football game from one shaky camera showing a high-angle view.
Taco Bell Student Section: For anyone who wanted to watch football without watching football, this was the feed for them. The ancillary coverage of fans and cheerleaders took away from the game, in my opinion, and really didn’t work as a channel. Taco Bell should sponsor a better option on next year’s Megacast.
Ohio State/Oregon Radio Call: These two get grouped together because they had the same format with opposing biases. I didn’t need to see so much of the coaches, but as someone who listens to a nice amount of Ohio State football on the radio, hearing Paul Keels over the broadcast was a nice touch.
DataCenter: This was my favorite of the feeds, mainly because of the potential. There were plenty of stat graphics that made nerds like me feel at home. I think that this type of feed would work perfectly on ESPNews if the graphics are redesigned to fit on screen like the NFL Draft border. For younger fans who enjoy following sports with a second screen, a social feed and data graphics alongside a broadcast of the game just makes sense in 2015.
Overall, the Megacast was a success for the Mothership. ESPN had an option for everyone from the most casual fans to the hardest of diehards on each side. Most every option had its niche target demographic, and, though some were more successful than others, I hope that every big game from now on has so many options. Just don’t show Aaron Boone picking his nose.