CSVS Q&A: Jeff Bentley, Executive Producer, Kent State Sports Network

In anticipation of the second-annual College Sports Video Summit, to be held June 8-9 in Atlanta, SVG has assembled a distinguished group of college sports-video experts to serve as the advisory board to help shape the event and ensure its relevance to the industry. Leading up to the two-day summit, SVG will check in with all the members of the board to discuss their involvement, what they hope the Summit will accomplish, and how CSVS can help the industry move forward. This week, Jeff Bentley, executive producer of the Kent State Sports Network, explains how the CSVS is the ideal place for networking in the college sports-video community.

Why are you involved with the College Sports Video Summit?
I really liked what happened last year as far as the connections. The quality and caliber of the people that were there I thought was outstanding. What was great for me last year was the networking possibilities for our network. And our university was very excited when they found out that I was going to be part of this.

What do you hope the event will accomplish?
I would like to see it become a vehicle to provide content to some more networks. Now that we’re moving forward with our sports-production concentration degree, we’re trying to get our students involved in as many productions as we can. A lot of these new networks, like ESPN3 and CBS College Sports, we would like to be able to produce some of our high-quality stuff for them.

When a Big Ten team or a nationally ranked team comes in to play us, if some of these networks would like to have that programming, we can do an HD, five-camera, full-graphics show. What I would like to be able to do is to provide more content to other outlets. That increases our visibility, but it also provides content that sometimes networks really need.

With budgets constantly tightening, how can colleges use video to become more cost-effective?
We stream every single event out of our MAC center, which is men’s and women’s basketball, gymnastics, wrestling, and volleyball. We do a full four-camera shoot with graphics, audio, replay, tape, and announcers. We’re doing it via fiber from our athletic event to our master control, and all by our students.

We’re really increasing the value of somebody watching on the Web. We’ve found that we have alumni all over the country, and, if we have one camera locked down and no audio, they weren’t interested. Now they can see a fully produced game on the Web, and that has enhanced our marketing for the university. It’s enhanced our reputation, and now alumni look at us differently. They say, wow, I can’t believe they’re doing this kind of thing. For us, I see that being the biggest benefit and a cost-saving thing.

One of the other things that’s enabled us to do what we have is, we’ve had a lot of collaboration among three departments: our teleproductions department, the college of communication and information, and our journalism/mass communications school. We have worked with our provost, and the deans of those two departments and our director to work all together. We just purchased a combination satellite/production truck. It’s a satellite truck with full production capabilities: it’s got a K2 Dyno tape machine, a nice switcher, a Chyron, a great sound board, and it’s a dual truck with our satellite. But how we did it was, we went through the president and provost, and it came down through journalism, mass communication, and teleproductions.

That’s one thing that I’ll be able to talk about and tell people. At our university three years ago, if you had said that this would happen, I would have told you you’re crazy. But as long as you keep trying to sell the benefits and get more people involved and share budgets and share costs, some of these things can be done.

What are you most looking forward to at CSVS?
Networking. I want to be able to let people know what we’re doing, let them know that we’re out there to provide content for them, and hear what other people are doing. I want to talk to other people and see what they’re doing video-wise, graphically, and with music.

I want to bend other people’s ears and have them ask us what we’re doing, because we’ve done some good stuff, too. Networking, seeing what other people are doing, sharing what we’re doing, and just making contacts so that I can get in touch with the guys at GatorVision and BaylorVision so that we can discuss things back and forth — that’s what I’m looking forward to.

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