Bevilacqua Kicks Off 2009 SVG College Sports Video Summit

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Chris Bevilacqua, CAA Sports president and CEO and cofounder of CSTV, discussed the future (and past) of college sports programming during a keynote address at the 2009 SVG College Sports Video Summit June 9 in Atlanta. “There has been a lot of change [since CSTV was launched], and there is a lot more change coming over the next seven years,” he said. “The cards are being shuffled, and there will be some winners and losers, and those who get out in front stand to benefit the most.”

The College Sports Video Summit drew more than 500 attendees, and the standing-room-only crowd heard Bevilacqua discuss the confluence of factors that, since 2003, have allowed for the college sports market to mature, transforming what was once a one-network landscape into one with more than a half-dozen college-sports-dedicated networks receiving national distribution. “We knew we were on to something [with the launch of CSTV], but the biggest advantage was not knowing what I didn’t know, and what a wild wacky ride for five years,” he said.

A $200 billion investment in distribution infrastructure by telcos, satellite and cable companies, for example, has resulted in additional channel capacity for HDTV and DTV services, coupled with faster broadband speeds. As a result, there are more opportunities to get carriage or deliver high-quality broadband experiences. “A lot of the rights holders that have the valuable programming are able to directly distribute it on their own,” Bevilacqua said.

The $200 billon investment also led to an explosion in the “TV anywhere” philosophy, where programmers and distributors look to make it easy for sports fans to consume content on the platform of choice. “That initiative is important to the college sports community,” he explained, adding that it will be tough to ask cable, satellite, and telco distributors who pay for rights to agree to streaming live programming on a Web site, given current deals.

But with valuable programming deals with college conferences like the ACC, Big 12, and Pac 10 up for renewal in upcoming years, there is a chance that new deals will encompass new distribution paradigms to cell phones and broadband. “There is an opportunity to take valuable content and spread it into a new environment as distribution companies add advanced features,” he said.

International distribution is also a big opportunity for universities and colleges. “It provides a whole new frontier and can help get brands out around the world,” Bevilacqua added.

For colleges and universities looking to build a sports-video department. Bevilacqua said leveraging journalistic departments and partnering with them provides an opportunity to cost-effectively build staff and talent. “The power of distribution is lining up with the power of content,” he added, “and consumers are willing to pay for programming, even in bad economic times.”

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