Sunday December 3, 2023

ESPN To ‘MegaCast’ Its Wild Card Playoff Coverage in January

  • ESPN will offer viewers 4 different presentations across 5 Disney networks.
  • ABC/ESPN to simulcast production by new ‘Monday Night Football’ announce team.
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Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
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ESPN plans to “MegaCast” its coverage of an NFL Wild Card playoff game this season, offering viewers at least four different presentations across five Walt Disney Co. networks.

Sister Disney networks ESPN and ABC will simulcast the Wild Card game, currently scheduled to be played on either Jan. 9 or 10.

Both networks will air the telecast featuring ESPN’s “Monday Night Football ” announce team of Steve Levy, Louis Riddick, Brian Griese, Lisa Salters and John Parry.

But ESPN2 and Freeform, a Disney cable network aimed at teens and young adults, will also offer their own distinct telecasts.

ESPN Deportes will have its own Spanish language production of the game.

ESPN says the Wild Card production will be the first time the multi-channel MegaCast coverage concept has been utilized during the NFL postseason. 

 The NFL’s TV partners — ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports and NBC Sports — are currently competing to forge new TV rights deals with the league after the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Under its current deal for MNF, ESPN gets a Wild Card playoff telecast — but is shut out of the lucrative Super Bowl TV rotation. In this upcoming rights cycle, Disney is pushing hard for ABC to land its first live game package in 15 years. 

The entertainment giant wants two NFL game packages: one for the ABC broadcast network and the other for its ESPN cable network.

MegaCasting has been used several times already this year as a way to get TV viewers used to watching live NFL coverage on ABC again.

Back in April, Disney MegaCast the 2020 NFL Draft, with ABC and ESPN offering their own distinct versions. Kirk Herbstreit of “College GameDay” led a more college football-oriented version while ESPN offered its traditional coverage. 

During Week 2 of the NFL season, Disney simulcast the Las Vegas Raiders’ first home game at the new Allegiant Stadium on both ABC and ESPN. 

This December, the sister networks will simulcast two more MNF games, both involving the Buffalo Bills. ABC and ESPN will simulcast Bills vs. San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 7 and Bills vs. New England Patriots on Dec. 28. 

Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s executive vice president of media, has said he’s open to MegaCasting NFL games. 

ESPN has previously simulcasted its coverage of the College Football Playoff National Championship game across several channels.

The NFL would like ABC, the original home of MNF from 1970 to 2005, to return to live games, said sources. The network’s return would give NFL games a clean sweep of all four broadcast channels:  ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.

With these broadcasters reaching more than 100 million U.S. homes, they’re more immune to cord-cutting than cable channels such as ESPN. 

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