The Mtn. Continues TCU Student Broadcast Partnership For Spring Coverage

This spring, The Mtn. — MountainWest Sports Network — will broadcast at least 41 baseball and softball games, with the help of students from Mountain West Conference (MWC) member school TCU and television partners at BYU and CBS College Sports Network.

Thirteen of the 22 regular-season baseball games that The Mtn. will offer this season will be produced by the students in the Film/Television/Digital Media department at TCU. Last fall, TCU students successfully produced volleyball, women’s basketball, and men’s basketball games for The Mtn., and, with a few suggestions and one technical upgrade, that partnership will continue through the baseball season.

“We’re taking 13 baseball games that TCU is producing,” says Steve Hurlbut, senior executive producer/director of programming for The Mtn. “We’re not making any major changes to what we’ve done with them in the past, although they have now procured a clock-and-score unit.”

Prior to that acquisition, the TCU students were attempting to run their score bug off a channel of Chyron, which Hurlbut says is “difficult to keep up with, even for a good Chyron operator.” With the clock-and-score unit, the student graphics operator now has the ability to write graphic messaging while keeping viewers informed of the score, inning, and pitch count.

“That’s been their largest technological advancement over the course of the season,” Hurlbut says.

For the most part, The Mtn. leaves the TCU students to their work, trusting the professors in the television and media department to ensure a quality production. The network does, however, periodically provide the students with feedback, as well as supplying them with a customized TCU graphics package consistent with the look on the network.

“I went down and met with their group of producers and directors a few weeks ago,” Hurlbut says. “[Coordinating Producer for Live Events] Brian Mitchell, is down there this week. Because we’re taking the first of their baseball productions, he went down to sit with those guys. He’s going to stick around to speak to a few classes, to give them some pointers.”

In order to smoothly air those baseball games, The Mtn. made an investment at TCU to extend the school’s local area network from its broadcast facility to its sport venues, specifically the baseball field and the Coliseum, where baseball and volleyball are played.

“We put four bonded T1 connections in with Glowpoint and then hooked up Streambox encoders and decoders,” explains Jon Rees, VP of operations for The Mtn. “We’re hauling all of that back. We just did a side-by-side test with a truck, sending the feed up on satellite and back down through the Streambox, and it looked awfully good. We’re really happy with the way that’s working.”

In addition to the TCU contribution to the spring offering, BYU will pitch in with eight baseball telecasts produced by BYU-TV, shown on next-day tape delay.

On the softball side, The Mtn. will air three live and six tape-delayed MWC softball games this year. The tape-delayed games will be produced by BYU-TV and CBS College Sports Network.

The Mtn. will produce live pre- and post-game shows from network studios as part of each baseball and softball telecast. Five of the TCU-produced telecasts will also incorporate a pre-game studio show produced by The Mtn.

On the original-programming side, The Mtn. will produce Reaching the Peak: Destination Omaha featuring a behind-the-scenes look at the TCU baseball program. Additional Web-only clips are available at www.themtn.tv as part of each program.

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