CFP National Championship Goes Live and Loud

ESPN’s Megacast offers 268 audio channels across a dozen cable and broadcast channels

ESPN spared nothing when it came to delivering the audio for the College Football Playoff (CFP) Championship Game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, last night. Two hundred sixty-eight channels of audio made sure that the game’s Megacast — different perspectives of the event across more than a dozen cable and broadcast channels — lived up to its name.

2016_CFP_Championship_logo“The submix is built for the game, so, if the band isn’t in the picture, you’ll barely hear them,” says Kevin Cleary, remote operations specialist, ESPN, who designed the audio plot for the event. “It’s built around the announcers so that the surround audio isn’t competing with them. Sounds of the Game takes you into a seat in the stadium: you hear the fans cheering around you; you hear the PA, which we usually keep underneath the ambient sound in a traditional television broadcast. The Megacast gives us so many more channels and lets us do things creatively that we’re not able to do on a traditional broadcast.”

In addition, Sounds of the Game kept playing when the other network channels, including ESPN Desportes, cut to commercials during the halftime break. “On Sounds of the Game,” he points out, “viewers hear the entire halftime show.”

Cleary estimates that this year’s CFP National Championship event fielded more than 125 individual microphones between field effects, crowd sounds, and the announcers, at least as many as last year. In addition, the number of parabolic mics deployed was doubled to eight, to better cover the end-zone audio. These feeds were mixed through nine separate mixing locations for a total of eight separate shows.

Even the venue helped. “The building is very good, sonically speaking,” says Cleary. “The field is closer to the stands because it’s removable, and that really helps build up excitement and the volume.”