The news broke yesterday morning and sent ripples through the band world: All MEAC football games broadcast on ESPN3 will include the halftime show in its entirety.
A look at the TV tag here will show you all sorts of wishes and dreams of mine related to televising halftime shows. While it's one conference on an online network, this may be the most progress we've seen outside of NBCsports.com show Notre Dame halftimes. Many in the band world can't help but wonder: What could be next?
First, I've long been critical of the Worldwide Leader's band coverage, or more accurately, lack thereof, so here, I have to give credit where credit is due. ESPN has taken a step in the right direction. I must acknowledge that ESPN is in the business of making money, so while the move isn't solely altruistic, that's even better in a lot of ways: It means that they see the inclusion of halftime shows as profitable.
Consider this: ESPN has a partnership with the MEAC - and the SWAC, for that matter - that includes the early season MEAC-SWAC Challenge and the postseason Celebration Bowl, which will serve as the black college football national championship. To truly sell those events, it's in the network's best interest to draw attention to those conferences' games throughout the regular season. Ironically, it's increasingly difficult for even non Power Five teams to get time of day on the family of networks, so they've really got to think outside the box to bring eyeballs to a conference that tends to perform towards the bottom of the FCS. By showing halftime, they not only add value to the broadcast, they also will likely bring in viewers who would not have otherwise tuned into a MEAC game on ESPN3. It is for those reasons I make the not-so-bold prediction that a similar announcement could follow for the SWAC. And as much as I'd like to see this extend to all conferences, I'm not sure adding halftime shows is seen as being as valuable for the major conferences. Still, because an ESPN3 broadcast only really requires them to keep a high angle camera on (though as the offering evolves, I hope the put more work into it), it could be feasible for it to extend throughout that platform.
Regardless of how it progresses, we just learned of a major step in the right direction towards the "80 minutes" ideal.