Monmouth University Leverages ESPN3 To Take Live Production to Next Level
There’s a Bruce Springsteen deep track that promises “from small things, momma, big things one day come.” Just a hop, skip, and a jump from the legendary rocker’s Jersey roots, a budding video team in Monmouth University’s athletic department embodies that expression.
This academic year has been a breakout campaign for the Hawks. The program has leveraged the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s relationship with ESPN3 to bolster its own multicamera live event coverage.
In the past, the department has live-streamed events to its Monmouth Digital Network, but the new distribution platform has led to the university’s making a big investment in video-production gear and the introduction of a 22-ft. custom-built production trailer.
“The ESPN3 opportunity was one that we did not want to pass up,” says Dr. Marilyn McNeil, VP/director of athletics, Monmouth University. “It gave our athletics communications staff, our students, and our faculty a real chance to produce broadcast-quality events over the ESPN3 medium. The investment was significant, but the return on that investment was not only educational but also gives our university and student-athletes an unparalleled amount of exposure. It was an opportunity that we felt we needed to be a part of.”
Through the ESPN3 relationship, Monmouth did need to make some gear upgrades to its production arsenal. Most notably, like all ESPN3 partners, the Hawks needed to invest in a graphics package that is universal across all college partners and runs off the Ross Xpression engine. The university selected Ross Xpression GO!, a portable, easy-to-use laptop version of the system.
In addition, the trailer is built around a Ross Carbonite production switcher with 16 inputs and 1M/E. It also houses a NewTek 3Play 400 for replay, a Behringer 32×16 audio console, and a monitor wall featuring eight flat screens.
With the new setup, Monmouth’s student-heavy video team, led by Assistant Athletics Director for Communications and New Media Greg Viscomi, has been navigating uncharted territory for a program of its size. In fact, Monmouth was the only Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) football program to carry live coverage of its National Signing Day on ESPN3.
“It [was an] opportunity to show that we can produce something that’s not just a live game, and it’s a great recruiting tool for the school,” says Viscomi. “The kids are really excited, and it’s a good way to get Monmouth football out there. Sure, it’s not as big as what the SEC schools do, obviously, but we’re an FCS program, and, for us to have an hour-and-15-minute-long Signing Day show is a unique opportunity for us.”
For live game coverage, Monmouth regularly deploys a four- or five-camera setup, including two Panasonic AG-HPX370s that serve as the classic main cameras. The crew will also use three Sony HXRNX5U handhelds, and the announcer’s setup includes a Studio Technologies Model 233 console.
The only athletic venue on campus that is fibered is the Multipurpose Activity Center, the $57 million home of the men’s and women’s basketball teams since 2009. To cable other venues, Monmouth has turned to Markertek, which helped supply a substantial number of reels of fiber. Viscomi says the longest fiber run he expects will be from centerfield on baseball games.
Following a winter of finding its sea legs, Monmouth is poised for a big spring sports season and recently announced that 24 spring events — 12 baseball and five softball games, four women’s and three men’s lacrosse matches — will air live on ESPN3.
“As a producer and an assistant athletic director, my goal is to have all of our [streamed] sports on ESPN3,” says Viscomi. “Sure, we have limitations on staffing and equipment, and there will be certain days where that’s not possible, but, when it’s all said and done, that’s my ultimate goal.”