ESPN Is Coming to a Theater Near You

The Worldwide Leader is bring college football games to the movies

A TV camera with ESPN's college football playoff logos.
Soon you might have one landing spot for college football, NFL games and a host of other sporting events
Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Thanks to a deal with the Theater Sports Network that was announced yesterday, college football fans will be able to head to the movies this season to catch approximately 75 games this season including the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl, the Capital One Orange Bowl and the College Football Playoff National Championship. Dozens of Atlantic Coast Conference games will also be available for viewing at theaters this season.

Local theaters will be able to set ticket prices for the showings and it seems reasonable that the games will attract their fair share of viewers as college football is one of the most popular TV products in the country behind the NFL. ESPN, which previously made the College Football Playoff semifinal and National Championship games available to fans in theaters in 2021 and 2022 thanks to a partnership with Cinemark, is banking on it.

“We believe movie theaters are the next great frontier for live sporting events, and we are elated with this unprecedented agreement with ESPN,” said Theater Sports Network president Scott Daw. “We look forward to bringing these games to ACC football fans. We believe that theaters have the ability to generate excitement around live sporting events. These events will replicate the feel of a football stadium experience as fans gather and fill theaters to watch the games on the big screen. As we move forward, we hope to add games from additional college football conferences as well as other live sporting events.”

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Could one of those other live sporting events eventually be the Super Bowl? Maybe not until 2027 as that’s the next time that ABC, which is owned by ESPN’s parent company Disney, has the rights to the big game. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility that another ABC/ESPN telecast of an NFL product like Monday Night Football will be available for viewing in a movie theater in the next year or two.

With streaming increasing and more Americans cutting their cable cords by the day, ESPN is trying to figure out more ways to get its product in front of viewers. Audiences are gradually coming back to the movies following the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and having something other than Hollywood productions to watch may be a draw (and given the current writers’ strike, new movies may dry out sooner than later). At this point, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a sports gambling platform work its way into the partnership as well.

Get your popcorn ready.

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