SVGU Q&A: UConn Huskies Bite Into Streaming

The University of Connecticut has always been known as a basketball powerhouse, but with the recent success of its football team, the demand for online content is rising. That demand falls squarely on the shoulders of Jason Isenberg, assistant director of video services for the University of Connecticut, who oversees all of the school’s video operations, including streaming numerous events focusing on any of the school’s 22 men’s and women’s varsity sports. SVG-U caught up with Jason in his short off-season to look back on the school’s first year of streaming content, and where the program will go from here.

SVG: What sports content do you currently stream on your website?

Isenberg: We’re doing all our streaming through our online partner, CSTV All-Access from CBS College Sports. We stream all kinds of events, including men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, field hockey, women’s ice hockey, soccer, softball, baseball, lacrosse, you name it. We also do press conferences and highlights. We produce three-to-four minute features on student athletes and we also put up video from banquets and special awards ceremonies.

How decide which events to stream?

We coordinate with our sports information director and work out the streaming schedule by generally keeping to one event per day, due to equipment and man power [limitations]. If in the spring we’ve got a Friday-Saturday-Sunday baseball series, we might do a baseball game Friday, a lacrosse game on Saturday and then a baseball game on Sunday. We’ll space it out and try to cover all the sports.

Are there any sports that don’t get streamed?

The one sport that doesn’t get streamed through CSTV is men’s ice hockey. That team has a contract through its conference, the Atlantic Hockey Association, where all the teams in the league have to stream through B2Networks. We use their equipment to stream that content.

For football, we streamed our spring game, but that was broadcast on Cox Sports, so they provided us a feed and we streamed that. We also put up highlights and game replays following the games along with our Tuesday and post-game press conferences each week during the season.

How do you capture the content?

For our CBS College Sports streaming, we generally do a standard setup with one camera with a laptop running Windows Media Encoder. We’ll put play-by-play on there either through our student radio by taking take their feed, or we’ll use our own play-by-play and color commentary. This is the first year we’ve tried streaming events and it worked out really nicely. We need to get some feedback to see if we want to take it to the next level and add cameras, put graphics in, sell ads and do a full-blown production.

What equipment do you have access to and who pays for it?

We purchased the equipment for this first year. We’re using one Sony HDV HBR-Z1U camera and a standard Dell laptop. We turn on Windows Media Encoder and we’re off and running.

Who staffs your productions?

I do, along with a student. We have a great crew of 14 students that work with us in video services, so I schedule them out for the events on a monthly basis. We go out, set up, shoot the event and that’s it. We generally hire freshmen and sophomores, train them on how to use the camera and they do all of the camerawork. We train them, we show them everything they need to know, and then if they have questions we’re always here to help them.

What is the biggest challenge you face to extending your streaming offerings?

It’s probably on the administrative side, making people aware of it and showing them what’s out there. Letting people know that you can watch this press conference after the basketball game. It’s not a technical thing for us; it’s more making people aware of it, maybe giving a free sample or a tease. It’s probably a marketing barrier, just to get the concept out there.

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