Friday, April 26, 2013

The New World Of Ivy League Streaming

TigerBlog sort of remembers the first time he watched a game on his computer.

It was Princeton-Cornell football, a game from Ithaca, though TB can't recall exactly what year it was. Still, he does remember being fascinated by the concept, that there was a game on the computer, rather than the television.

Would it catch on, TB wondered? Would people really want to watch games on their computers?

At the time, the picture wasn't very easy to see, and it kept buffering. It was a far cry from what TB was used to from watching games on TV.

TB also remembers a meeting along time ago, when a few coaches talked about wanting to expand Princeton's videostreaming efforts. At that meeting, one coach - who is no longer at Princeton - said that it was important to do it just to be able to tell recruits that it was being done, rather than worrying about how good it was.

And TB sort of saw the logic.

Today, videostreaming is a huge deal. Princeton streams nearly all of its sports, probably a higher number of sports than any other school in the country.

It has become an every day part of doing business, not just at Princeton but throughout college athletics. 

The news today is that the Ivy League has partnered with NeuLion - Princeton's current web provider - for the league's first conference-wide digital streaming initiative. Beginning with the 2013-14 academic year, Ivy fans will be able to see all live and on-demand streaming as part of a single network.

Each school and the league will have its own "channel," and all Ivy League events will be available.

In the past, each school had its own streaming effort. If it happened to overlap with another school's - two schools with the same provider - then it could possible be provided as part of the other school's package.

If not, then fans had to sign up for the other school's subscription if they wanted to see their own team's away game.

TB understood. In fact, he made the comparison to tickets. If you were a season-ticket holder at Princeton, you still had to buy a ticket for the game at Cornell.

That was two years ago.

Since then, TigerBlog has been part of the Ivy League's Digital Strategies Committee, a group that took the idea of creating this one league-wide platform and worked to create the news that came out today.

It's a big win for Ivy fans, and a nice step forward for the league.

Fans will no longer have to buy multiple subscriptions. The league will be able to pool its streaming efforts.

And in NeuLion, the Ivy League has a partner that is cutting edge when it comes to streaming - and to marketing. NeuLion's streaming partners include more than 100 colleges and leagues, not to mention the NHL, NFL and NBA.

The commitment is to bring streaming to more than just the laptop. From today's announcement:
Available to subscribers in August, The Ivy League Digital Network will be accessible on multiple devices, including PCs, smartphones and tablets, allowing for an all-new nine (9)-channel network of Ivy League action anytime, anywhere. 

And that's really the future.

Yes, television is important. TB cannot imagine a world where the league's streaming numbers eclipse the audience size for a game on television (like tomorrow's Princeton-Cornell men's lacrosse game on ESPNU at 4).

But the sheer quantity of content that can be brought to league fans now is far beyond the number of games that will ever be televised.

And the ability to have those games reach the people who are interested in them on their phones or tablets, in addition to their computers, is also a huge part of the equation.

Today's announcement is a major one in the history of Ivy League athletics, especially in the promotion of Ivy League athletics.

The network starts this summer. Make sure you're tuned in.

It'll be far easier to do so than ever before.

1 comment:

Glenn Adams '63 said...

That's fantastic news for all Ivy League sports fans. Thanks for your efforts to bring about this big step.