Executive Voice: An ESPN First: NFL and CFP MegaCasts on Back-to-Back Days
What do ESPN's production "scientists" have in store for innovative storytelling this weekend? EVP, Event & Studio Production, Stephanie Druley previews the special presentations
EDITOR’S NOTE: Executive Vice President, Event & Studio Production, Stephanie Druley’s, responsibilities include event and studio coverage of NFL; college football; NBA; men’s and women’s college basketball including the women’s NCAA tournament plus college soccer, softball, volleyball and more; and professional and international soccer. She also oversees the production of the SEC Network, Longhorn Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN’s networks outside the U.S. as well as the ACC Network.
Blanketing a big sporting event with the “MegaCast treatment” — a concept developed by ESPN — has become a foundational element of our coverage. Thanks to an exceptional display of collaboration and creativity, we are able to offer fans entertaining viewing options across ESPN outlets.
As you would expect, pulling off a MegaCast is full of complexities, which is why we are particularly proud of our plans for pro and college football MegaCasts on back-to-back days for the first time: Sunday’s NFL Wild Card effort followed by Monday’s CFP National Championship. Producing events of this magnitude during the pandemic obviously adds to the challenging circumstances.
The MegaCasts will highlight a busy extended weekend stretch on ESPN, beginning tonight with an NBA doubleheader featuring Clippers at Warriors, and continuing with a full slate of women’s and men’s college basketball games Saturday and Sunday. [ESPN commentator] Maria Taylor’s schedule illustrates the point – she will host our NBA coverage Friday [from CFP host city Miami] before working the MegaCasts Saturday and Sunday [Watch Party co-host on NFL; sideline reporter for CFP].
The MegaCast has become a laboratory for innovation and if you extend that analogy, [ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer] Ed Placey has been our lead scientist. Through Ed’s vision and a great team of creative production staff, we’ve pulled off some incredible concepts, and this year’s plans, which include Refcast, Watch Party, Film Room, and Between the Lines, will continue that tradition. You will also see our talented NFL Live team of Laura Rutledge, Mina Kimes, Dan Orlovsky, and Marcus Spears appear on both MegaCasts.
Often unsung, the collective efforts of our event operations team, led by [ESPN Remote Operations Senior VP] Chris Calcinari, are critically important to the success of our MegaCasts. Imagine setting up for the two events total more than 100 transmission paths, 19 mobile units/support vehicles, 133 camera positions ranging from skycams to pylon cameras, and much more. Our ops team is the best in the business, and there is no greater proof than MegaCast executions.
Spreading our wings to most effectively utilize what [ESPN Programming Executive VP] Burke Magnus and the programming group refer to as the “ESPN reach machine” is an essential MegaCast ingredient. The ongoing commitment to expand across ESPN and Disney platforms includes differentiated MegaCast feeds for ESPN+, Freeform, the ESPN app, ESPN Deportes, and more, plus 4K viewing options.
Fans have come to expect and look forward to the variety and excellence of ESPN’s big event productions. Rest assured that our team is dedicated to cutting-edge experiences that will continue to delight our passionate audiences.