CSVS Advisory Committee Q&A: Tom Buffolano, CSVS Chair

Next week, at the inaugural College Sports Video Summit, sports broadcasters, college and university professionals, and technology providers will meet for two days of panel discussions and workshops. The event, chaired by Tom Buffolano, is designed to help advance the creation, production, and distribution of sports video content at the college level. Days before the event, Buffolano checked in with SVG to discuss the formation of the Summit, the Global Media Awards for College Sports, and what attendees can look forward to.

How did the College Sports Video Summit come about?

In the fall of 2008, I had some discussions with the SVG team about how to break into the college market in a way that would make a significant impact in the creation, production, and distribution of sports video. As we’ve all seen in the past, there were a few different attempts to pull the college marketplace together that didn’t actually work, so we had to figure out how we would be successful where others had failed.

One of the concerns we had was the fact that the economy wasn’t doing all that well. But at the same time, we felt that an investment in sports video would have such a positive impact both directly and indirectly on revenue, that we felt that this was a topic that really needed to be addressed.

Sports video production at the college level is a wise business investment. The underlying theme at the Summit is how investing in sports video in your department, or upgrading your video resources, or focusing on video, will enhance the business at a university.

What do you hope to accomplish at CSVS?

If you polled people who work in college sports and ask how many different universities have you worked at, the answer would probably be, I’ve worked only in this job. A lot of what goes on in college sports production at universities happens in isolation. A number of attendees have expressed to me that they would love to be able to network with other folks who are at universities and produce video for their athletic departments.

At the same time, you’ve got a lot of technology providers who needed to break into the market and a lot of media companies who have similar concerns, issues, and initiatives. I think they will all find a common ground here.

At the end of the day, I want everybody who attends the event to think about college athletics and the production of sports video as an industry, and to understand that there are a lot of commonalities that exist between all of these different constituents. Getting everybody to the same level is the first piece of this, and getting everybody to feel as if they’re part of a bigger equation is the second.

Why did you create the Global Media Awards for College Sports?

Having worked for three and a half years at CSTV and CBS College Sports, I knew that there are a lot of really good producers, especially at the university level, of sports video. Also from my perspective of having entered the Sports Emmys with no hope of winning, I always thought that college are producing really good relevant video; it’s just that they may be overmatched a little bit by entities with much bigger budgets.

Ten years ago, college sports was a small percentage of the sports on television. Subsequently it’s grown to eight cable networks, most every college now produces some sort of video, and the technology companies are becoming more enamored with ways to showcase college sports because there’s a lot more passion with the college sports fan across the board than there is for professional sports.

This part of the industry has matured to a level that deserves recognition and I think by the response we got in terms of the number of submissions, everybody agrees.

What buzz word do you hope attendees take away from the event?

The term I like the best is ‘Paying the Freight.’ For me that encompasses all of what we’re talking about at the Summit. What video can do for you is help you achieve your goals, help you reach out and engage fans and alumni and parents, and your entire base of constituents. But you can’t look at it as a loss leader, and that’s why I think ‘Paying the Freight’ is a phrase that everybody will walk out with. I want them to know that they’re going to be able to have a positive impact on their school or their company’s revenue because of what they can do with video.

That’s what I’d really like people to walk out of the room thinking — that the production of sports video is going to lead to better business and more revenue for me and for my department.

For more details on the College Sports Video Summit, visit www.csvsummit.com.

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