Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Ivy League Network On ESPN+

Back when TigerBlog first started at Princeton, there was something called Fax on Demand.

It was cutting edge. If you worked in athletic communications, you could fax something - a release, game notes, stats - to a central number and then a mailbox. Then those who were interested in that information could have it faxed to them.

Oh, if you don't remember fax machines, they were basically a way to transport information across phone lines. TB was really fired up the time that Princeton got a new fax machine, one that would take up to 20 pieces of paper at once, scan them and then send them, as opposed to the old way, which was to feed one sheet at a time. Now that was progress.

Anyway, with Fax on Demand, there was a small fee for the service on the part of the user.

There was also a way in those days to listen to Princeton's radio broadcasts if you lived outside the area. You would call into a number and then listen on your phone as the game played. This would be your landline, since nobody had a cell phone yet.

Again, there was a fee for the service.

TigerBlog isn't sure how much they cost, but he'd guess it was more than $5 per month. Ah, how times have changed.

Fax on Demand is long since gone. So is whatever that "listen to the game on the phone" thing was called.

So is basically any way of communicating that existed before the birth of the internet, which of course changed everything about TigerBlog's business. He considers himself fortunate to have been here before and after the internet, so he remembers what things were like before technology evolved.

Of course it all has evolved. The number of ways to present that information has skyrocketed, and it continues to change again and again and again. TigerBlog's favorite thing about this evolution is that it has allowed Princeton, and the rest of the league, to go directly to those most interested in the content, bypassing any other provider of this information.

And of all of the things that have come along in the years since Fax on Demand and the phone thing, very few of them have had the impact of the Ivy League Network. It has been the perfect vehicle to, as TB said, bring Ivy League games directly to those who want to see them, while at the same time giving the eight schools and the league office the ability to tell their stories of athletic success and the uniqueness of the Ivy model.

Yesterday's big news from the league office and the eight schools is the news that the Ivy League Network will, for the next 10 years, be moving to ESPN+. You can read the whole release HERE.

This is huge on a lot of levels.

The Ivy League Network moves onto the ESPN platform with the start of the 2018-19 academic year. It'll be sort of like the Netflix of sports programming, with access paid monthly for a ton of content, not only from the Ivy League.

Princeton has spent the last 15 years or so with its relationship with ESPN, which has had the Tigers featured on one of the networks - usually ESPNU - for at least seven home events per year. That arrangement has always been a great one for Princeton.

Now that relationship expands across the entire league, with the move of the ILN.

Princeton first started streaming video of football games though a local cable provider, a long time ago. TB's biggest memory of those days is that the camera stayed focused on the parking lot during halftime.

At one point, there was a coaches meeting, at which one head coach said that the whole point of videostreaming was to be able to tell recruits that Princeton was doing it.

Today the idea of watching streamed games is pretty much taken for granted. It's rarer when a game isn't streamed.

At Princeton the goal has always been to stream as many sports and as many events as possible, and that's something that has been a big success story. Now all of that content gets shifted over to what is clearly still the biggest name in sports media, a company with whom Princeton has had a great working relationship with for a long time.

What does this mean for you?

Well, if you have a current ILN account, it'll be good through the end of the academic year. Then you'll need to get a new account with ESPN+.

There will be Ivy League games on ESPN's TV networks, as well as on regional sports networks, like Princeton's games on NBC Sports Philadelphia. Everything will be on ESPN+.

It's exciting news for Ivy League sports fans.

Oh, and how much will all this cost? Yeah, it's $5 per month. That's next to nothing. It's less than half of what Netflix costs.

In fact, it's less than what Fax on Demand and the phone thing used to cost. TB is pretty sure of that anyway.

He's also pretty sure this is going to be a big step forward for Ivy League athletics.


Anonymous said...

TB, you have no need to apologize for your memory, which has been shown over the years to be prodigious indeed. But the Fax On Demand service was free to consumers. Meanwhile, the radio broadcast on your landline thing was rather expensive. It charged on a per minute basis and full football game would run fifty bucks or so.

Anonymous said...

TB, I've since remembered what I think was the name of the service to hear the local radio broadcast on your landline: SportsLine.

Anonymous said...

TB, I believe that "the radio broadcast on your landline thing" was called SportsLine.