- This is the second time this year that ESPN has done an animated alternative broadcast
- In March, the ‘NHL Big City Greens Classic’ aired a Rangers-Capitals game
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
The NFL is targeting younger audiences with a new animated simulcast concept based on the Pixar franchise, Toy Story.
Sunday’s game between the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars at London’s Wembley Stadium will be played in a digitized version of one character’s room. The “Toy Story Funday Football” broadcast will stream on ESPN+ and Disney+. ESPN+ also has the main broadcast.
This is the second time this year that ESPN has created an animated alternate broadcast featuring Disney characters. In March, the ‘NHL Big City Greens Classic’ aired during a game between Washington and New York.
ESPN has been successful with alternative broadcasts of NFL games, including the “ManningCast” during “Monday Night Football” and playoff games.
Tim Reed, the network’s vice president of programming, said the NHL game provided a good foundation and something to build on.
This is the second time this year that ESPN has done an animated alternative broadcast
“We looked at many different concepts and ultimately focused on ‘Toy Story’ because it resonates with older generations and children together. It is also a way to promote and showcase the exclusive ESPN+ game,” he said.
The broadcast will be fully animated, with the players’ movements synchronized with what’s happening on the field in real time. This is done through player data tracking, powered by the NFL’s Next Gen Stats system and Beyond Sports.
Beyond Sports, a company based in the Netherlands, will be largely responsible for the player animation and ensuring player tracking data works with the animated product. ESPN’s creative services have created more than 100 animations of “Toy Story” characters to be woven into the broadcast.
Pixar Animation Studios, which produces the “Toy Story” franchise, worked with ESPN to make sure things don’t stray too far from established storylines.
“When you play a normal game, you document it. We’re kind of creating the storyline that the game creates as we go a little bit further here,” said coordinating producer Drew Gallagher. ‘It was a fun, imaginative experience producing this. We lean a little into the cartoon logic of it all, like when the aliens come out of the sky and drop the ball on the line of scrimmage. That’s the fun kind of silliness we get into.”
Fans can also expect to see Bo Peep, Bullseye, Forky, Green Aliens and Slinky Dog.
During halftime, Duke Caboom will attempt to jump over double-decker buses on a motorcycle.
Drew Carter, Booger McFarland and 12-year-old Pepper Persley will be the game’s announcers. All three will be fully animated and their body movements will be viewed via motion-capture technology.
The game kicks off Sunday at 9:30 a.m. EST, but the replay of “Toy Story Funday Football” will be available on Disney+ for 30 days. More than 95 countries worldwide will have access to the presentation, either live or on replay, including the United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico and France.