SBD/January 8, 2014/Media

ESPN Has No Current Plans For Another "Megacast," But Multiple Feeds Coming Again

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ESPN has no concrete plans to roll out another "Megacast," but one of the execs responsible for putting it together for Monday's Vizio BCS National Championship game suggested that the plan to cover an event with multiple feeds on multiple channels will be used again. "This definitely felt like the first of many. Now that we know we can do it from a technical perspective, it's just going to come down to honing and refining and learning from some of the things we did Monday to make the offerings in the future even better," said ESPN VP/Programming & Acquisitions Ilan Ben-Hanan. "This is not an everyday thing that you roll out. When you have a really big event with a lot of intense interest, that's where something like this makes a lot of sense." Ben-Hanan, who oversees ESPN's college football programming, said he already has heard from other ESPN execs involved with other sports who said they want to roll out the "Megacast" around their programming. The "Megacast" plan was praised during and after the game, particularly the "Film Room" feed that featured current college coaches analyzing the game in real-time on ESPNews. "Some of the other executions were not meant to be as broad," he said. "We did some really fun stuff on ESPN3 like the Spider Cam telecast. ... That wasn't intended to be a huge driver, but it was a really cool thing. Maybe you watch one drive from that camera."

TIME NEEDED TO EVALUATE WHAT WORKED: ESPN execs plan to let some time pass before deciding which concepts worked and which ones need re-tooling. But Ben-Hanan said that the "Megacast" was produced exactly as it was intended. "Some of the fun of these executions was the idea that you were eavesdropping on what should have been natural and organic conversations," he said. "This wasn't a normal TV program, with a host setting things up and throwing things to an analyst. It wasn't designed that way." One potential tweak may deal with the number of on-air talent involved in each feed, Ben-Hanan suggested. "You could make an argument that sometimes in some of these instances, we had so many voices that if someone wanted to make a point, by the time they got a chance to get a word in edgewise, the next play had happened. College football, with its up-tempo offenses and where things are headed in the sport, only makes that aspect of it --­ specific to this sport --­ even tougher." Ben-Hanan said that he spent much of the game walking around ESPN's production compound "in a daze," trying to keep track of which truck was handling which specific feed. "Probably like any other innovation, once you've done it a few times, it probably gets easier," he said. "It was bigger than anything I've ever been a part of."
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