ESPN College Football Live Offers 50-State Tour

By Ken Kerschbaumer

When ESPN made the decision to make College Football Live a year-round program, it also introduced a conundrum: What will the program feature during the summer that will keep viewers coming back? The answer is the “College Football Live 50 States Tour,” giving each state a chance to stand in the spotlight for at least one afternoon.

“The great unknown was how we were going to cover college football year-round,” says Antoine Lewis, College Football Live coordinating producer. “We needed something that would be as dynamic as college sports but also informative. So we were looking for a different way of passing information on to viewers, and we thought, ‘Why not go around the country and cover every state?’”

The tour begins June 1 and will conclude Aug. 7, airing weekdays at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. A total of 43 episodes will air, with some having multiple states (like the June 3 episode, covering Delaware and New Jersey), while massive college football states like Texas, Florida, and California will require two shows.

Based in Bristol, CT, the program will feature interviews with great players from each state via satellite. “We also have analysts in certain states,” says Lewis.

Programming will extend beyond the TV to ESPN.com and ESPN RISE, the network’s multimedia content brand dedicated to serving the high school audience. ESPN Mobile will allow fans to vote on topics, and ESPN.com will have three or four polls per day, plus blog reports and online chats.

ESPN RISE is a key component. “Each program will feature a little bit on the high school programs,” he says. “This is a big, sweeping cross-platform entity, and we won’t be able to get the whole story about a state on air because there is only so much time.”

The first week has been scheduled out and includes programs on Michigan (June 1), Tennessee (June 2), Delaware and New Jersey (June 3), Oregon (June 4), and Oklahoma (June 5).

“This is a journey of discovery and a lot of fun because [the people involved] are a bunch of college football junkies who read everything they can on the sport,” says Lewis.