Campus Insiders, Flypacks Power New Patriot League Network
This week ushers in a new era for live video production at the Patriot League.
The northeast-based college athletics conference is the latest to partner with Campus Insiders, the digital-media outfit jointly owned by IMG College and Silver Chalice, in creating the Patriot League Network (PLN).
Under this new multiyear agreement, the Patriot League will live-stream hundreds more games than it has in the past, add branded studio programming, and grow distribution on multiple platforms and devices.
Controlling more of its rights opens the door to many new opportunities for the conference.
“Before, the rights for the league consisted of only league basketball games and all of our championships,” says Richard Wanninger, senior associate athletic director for external relations, Patriot League. “Now, when the school’s rights are not tied to another provider, they fall upon us. So now we’re going to be able to do Penn State at Bucknell men’s soccer or Hopkins at Loyola men’s lacrosse. It reaches all sports.”
PLN, which debuted this past weekend with three women’s soccer productions, will provide free live coverage of nearly 250 games during the fall sports season alone, including 115 regular-season league contests and four Patriot League tournaments.
There are already more than 50 regular-season games on the schedule in volleyball and men’s soccer, nearly 50 in women’s soccer, more than 30 in field hockey, and 27 in football.
Each Patriot League sport will feature the majority of its league contests on PLN, with more than 55% of league games shown for the five fall team sports. The entirety of the Patriot League tournament will be broadcast for men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey, and volleyball, adding 16 postseason games to the fall broadcast slate.
The Patriot League’s broadcast television partner, CBS Sports Network, will carry its regular allotment of spotlight football and basketball contests. Beyond that, the conference will break down its schedule with Campus Insiders coming in and producing selected live game broadcasts throughout the season. The schools, however, will produce a vast majority of the events.
Updated HD video-production technology is at the center of the Patriot League Network launch. Each league institution has received a flypack of high-definition broadcast equipment from Applied Video Technology (AVT), a systems-integration company out of southeastern Pennsylvania.
Highlights of the pack — AVT’s VidCaster 455 — include:
- 1 NewTek TriCaster 455 production switcher with two NEC 23-in. LCD screens
- 1 Western Digital 2-TB internal hard drive and 1 Toshiba DVD recorder
- 1 NewTek LiveText 2 graphics engine with software and Dell Vostro laptop
- 3 JVC GY-HM600U HD cameras
- 1 Telex two-channel intercom
- 1 Shure four-channel audio mixer
- 5 Telex boom mics
The case also includes all other accessories: HD cabling, tripods, bags, etc.
In addition, AVT is providing an announcers pack (Telex IFBs, Sennheiser mics, and Samsung LCD monitors), a scoreboard camera (a Sony HD unit with 27x optical zoom), and camera and microphone accessories for the league camera and recently hired correspondent Melanie Pellowski.
To help the staffs at each school with their new gear and responsibilities, the Patriot League held a production training course at the conference offices in Center Valley, PA, on Aug. 19. Campus Insiders brought in members of its production group to walk through the process.
“When any conference puts together a digital network, there’s a diverse level of expertise,” says Wanninger. “This (training camp) will help us ensure that the games at Bucknell will look the same as or as close as they can to the ones at Holy Cross or Colgate.”
Unlike most digital-network startups, the Patriot League is building on a very strong foundation. The conference has been producing live video content and distributing online since 2006. The conference’s Patriot League All-Access was at the forefront of streaming sports video at the conference level. As a result, a majority of Patriot League schools already have a video specialist in place, according to Wanninger. For those that don’t, it has been left up to the schools to determine how to address the issue of either hiring a new staffer or training someone currently on staff.
All Patriot League programming will be available through member schools’ athletic Websites, the conference Website, and Campus Insider’s Website. The digital media player is also customizable. There will be a general Patriot League “skin” for the player, but each school will also have its own customized skin for its Website.
“Branding has been important to try to bring everyone together as a league,” says Wanninger, “but we also want to make sure that we’re strengthening the brands for the schools.”
According to Campus Insiders EVP/GM Crowley Sullivan, Campus Insiders will serve as a distribution and syndication platform for the Patriot League. In addition to building out the digital-network infrastructure, Campus Insiders provides original programming and studio shows (hosted by Bonnie Bernstein and Seth Davis) to supplement the networks it supports, which include the Oregon Ducks, the Mountain West Conference, and the West Coast Conference.
Campus Insiders will incorporate the Patriot League into its many existing distribution relationships, including partners on VOD, OTT, and IP-connected platforms. This partnership will also include development and management of a comprehensive Patriot League Network portal on Campus Insiders’ Website, mobile app, and YouTube Channel.