The NFL and Disney are planning to take an upcoming game telecast to infinity and beyond.
ESPN+ and Disney+ will present a fully animated, real-time alternate telecast of the Oct. 1 game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons. The game, one of the league’s yearly London matchups, is ESPN’s first regular season contest that’s exclusive to ESPN+ (save for over-the-air broadcast in the teams’ home markets). The animated version will take place in Pixar’s Toy Story universe, on a field laid out on the floor of Andy’s room. (The league’s NFL+ platform will also carry the alternate presentation.)
The presentation, which Disney has dubbed “Toy Story Funday Football,” is arguably the most ambitious alternate-feed telecast of an NFL game to date, and in keeping with commissioner Roger Goodell’s aggressive push into streaming and alternate presentations beyond the league’s traditional broadcast footprint. As Goodell told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent cover story, “We have to be ahead of that strategy at all times so that we are where our fans are, on the platforms they want to be on.”
CBS Sports has shown several alternate telecasts on Nickelodeon, with CGI slime and other elements aimed at encouraging family viewing. The Toy Story game will take that several steps further, re-creating every play in nearly real time with a big assist from player-tracking technology provided by the NFL’s Next Gen Stats and Beyond Sports.
Drew Carter, Booger McFarland and 12-year-old reporter Pepper Persley will call the game, with their movements shown through motion capture (Chris Fowler, Dan Orlovsky, Louis Riddick and Laura Rutledge will handle the main broadcast on ESPN+). Familiar Toy Story characters including Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep, the aliens, Forky, Jesse and Rex, will be visible on the sidelines and in other elements, and the halftime show will feature a motorcycle jump from Toy Story 4′s Duke Caboom.
The animated Jaguars-Falcons game will stream live at 9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m. PT on Oct. 1 on ESPN+, Disney+ and NFL+. A replay will be available for a limited time on Disney+ and NFL+; 95 territories worldwide will be able to access the animated presentation either live or via replay. A promo for the game is below.