Opportunity Knocks: It’s an Active Summer for College Video Jobs
Someone browsing the Sports Video Group’s Job Board and SVG College Website may have noticed a trend. There’s a lot of hiring going on at the college level for summer jobs and for permanent openings.
Such titles as game-day video operations, production manager, and broadcast production coordinator have been listed over the past couple of months. The common thread: the seemingly insatiable need for schools and conferences to create more and more content.
College sports is a booming industry, sure, but the growth of video production is a much deeper story.
Why Are They Looking?
The increase in job opportunities has a simple reason: pure growth. The door has flown open on digital production, thanks to Internet-enabled TVs and smartphones with crisp HD screens offering a host of distribution avenues for more–cost-effectively produced sports video.
The hottest growth area has been in live event production, and, for that, look no further than SEC territory, where the ESPN-backed SEC Network is set to launch on Aug. 14. What makes this launch unique from even the Longhorn Network’s debut three summers ago is how much of the production responsibility is falling on the shoulders of schools themselves.
All 14 of the SEC’s member institutions were required to either assign existing staff or grow their video-production team to help program the new linear network and, more important, the digital network. Each school will be required to produce 40 live events in addition to its current on-demand and feature programming.
“Because of our need to produce live events for SEC Network, we have shifted our model from on-demand video to live video production,” says Stan Silvey, director of University of Missouri’s Mizzou Network. “We built two control rooms, an audio room for live broadcast, and additional staff was necessary. We added a full-time broadcast engineer, a director, and a graphic artist to assist with our live productions.”
Mid-major brands meanwhile are continuing to grow their exposure and presence, and live event video has proved an effective way of spreading a school’s message and getting its programs onto more screens than ever.
The University of Dayton has emphasized cost-effective live production of many of the school’s Olympic sports and even its most high-profile sport, men’s basketball. To help grow that initiative, the department looked to hire a coordinator of broadcast production.
“The feedback we received from coaches, parents, alumni, and prospective student-athletes has been overwhelmingly in favor of watching home events on any device at any location,” says Michael LaPlaca, assistant athletics director, multimedia, at Dayton. “With technology changing at a rapid rate, we know fans now expect the ability to watch games on televisions, gaming systems, smartphones, and tablets. We as a department have to adapt to the market and provide the best online experience we can to our audience.
“An emphasis on live video streaming is also a nod to the future,” he continues. “The only thing that is holding the television-distribution industry — in my opinion — is live sports. Once that HD stream becomes so good that it comes into your 60-in., Internet-enabled Apple television, then you’re in a whole new world. We want to be sure we are prepared and positioned as best we can.”
In-venue technology has also become a top priority for many high-profile programs aiming to market their high-profile sports. Clemson University filled an opening for a football-video–production manager after recently promoting longtime video guru Rick Bagby to assistant athletic director for video and technology. The move shifts his attention from coach’s video to the impact that video has on both the externally distributed and in-venue shows.
“A positive fan experience is critical to our overall game-day commitment,” says Bagby, who has enjoyed nearly a decade at Clemson. “We understand that the fan has a choice to stay at home and watch a sporting event on their large-screen TV or drive to Clemson to watch in person. Clemson is committed to ensuring that, when our fans choose to attend our games, their game-day experience is fun and positive. A big part of this is increasing our technology in our stadiums and arenas.”
Whom Are They Looking For?
Let’s call them “creative preditors.”
Preditors (or producer/editors) have essentially become the norm across both the professional and college landscape. Few people have landed sports-video jobs over the past few years without being able to do it all: shoot, edit, package, the whole deal.
Now, with increased emphasis on both live event production and documentary-style features, these folks are now required to be stellar storytellers, be it as a director of a game or for an intimate feature piece.
“We need that wide variety of skills,” says Tom Gelehrter, senior director, new media and broadcasting, University of Cincinnati, which is looking for an assistant director, creative services and video production, this summer. “We need someone who is creatively strong, can shoot, edit, and produce a piece on their own, at times with very little guidance. We want a leader who will fit in well with the team and is ready to hit the ground running.”
Video staff’s specializing in certain roles is no longer an option. Each athletic department is essentially becoming a sports broadcaster. Sure, ESPN, Fox, CBS, and NBC will continue to roll their 53-ft. trucks in for bowl games and NCAA tournaments, but, as bigger schools look to grow the exposure of their Olympic sports and smaller schools look to crash the content party, they are building a team that is becoming the voice and eyes of the university.
Connecting with fans through video has become essential, and teams that work together to tell the best stories are the ones finding success in this area.
“In my opinion, it is vital that people are developing their interpersonal skills,” says Bagby. “This is how a candidate can win a job. You must have a great résumé, but, once you get past the demo-reel phase of the interview process, a candidate has to be able to sell themselves. That ability to be able to mesh with our existing staff was a vital part of our interview process. I encourage people to work on that portion of their growth as much as they work on learning new editing skill sets.”