SVG College Sports Summit: Best Practices in Launching an OTT Platform

Conference and university pros share their experiences; industry execs offer advice

Digital networks gave colleges and conferences the power to distribute their own content directly to their fans. Now the next wave in video distribution, over-the-top (OTT), is poised to take the industry by storm this year and bring content right into the living room.

A panel discussion — featuring moderator Matthew Panto, The Ivy League, assistant executive director, digital media and communications, and speakers Brandon Meier, Oklahoma, assistant AD, broadcast operations; Jeff Smith, Great Lakes Valley Conference, associate commissioner, communications; Tom Buffolano, LTN Global Communications, VP, business development, sports; and Ron Linares, AJT Systems, president — addressed what it takes to design, build, and, most important, maintain a strong OTT channel beyond and content publishers.

Here are a few highlights:

In fall 2014, the Great Lakes Valley Conference became the first Division II conference to launch its own streaming network, the GLVC Sports Network (GLVCSN). By fall 2015, all 16 GLVC schools were streaming under the network brand. Since its launch, GLVCSN has streamed 4,170 events, including 276 for all 61 GLVC Championships. GLVC partnered with Blueframe Technologies to help provide the backend technology and assist in its OTT strategy. In addition, in January, the GLVC launched four OTT apps with Roku, Apple TV (fourth generation), Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. At the conference, GLVC’s Smith explained the importance of “calculated baby steps” in launching a full-fledged conference network:

Last fall, University of Oklahoma Athletics made content available for in-home viewing via Apple TV and Roku devices. OU became the country’s first “Power Five” athletics department to offer live and on-demand content via both Apple TV and Roku. What went into OU’s decision to launch the Sooner Sports OTT platform? Meier explained the thinking behind the move:

LTN’s Buffolano on what his company offers colleges looking to deliver live games to an OTT streaming platform:

OU’s Meier believes experimentation is key to creating high-quality content. He goes as far as to preach “obsessive experimentation” to his team:

Smith explains how the GLVCSN is seeing a major shift toward mobile viewership rather than laptop viewing:

Meier discusses the challenge of communicating to fans where they can watch live games and which games will be on which platforms/channels:

GLVC’s Smith on the importance of analytics in managing your OTT platform and how “duration” can be among the most integral metrics to monitor:

Watch the full panel discussion in its entirety:

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