Northeastern Stretches Video Capabilities on New GoNU.TV

Northeastern University has a highly developed co-op program, so, during a given semester, students can be on the Boston campus or gaining work experience in California, China, and everywhere in between. To help the community around the globe stay connected with its sports teams, Northeastern Athletics has launched a new version of GoNU.TV, in partnership with Stretch Internet, whose Flash-based player offers higher-quality on-demand and live video, live stats integration, chat capability, and mobile access, among other features.

Stretching Skills
Northeastern is the first school in the country to use Stretch Internet’s GameCentral platform, a brand-new platform that expands the company’s traditional audio streaming into video, statistics, and live chat.

“Stretch is a streaming company,” says Imry Halevi, video production manager for Northeastern Athletics. “They started with audio streaming, but they’ve been slowly growing into video streaming. Last year, they started a big undertaking to revamp their entire customer-facing portal. They wanted to add chat functionality, live stats, on-demand viewing, and other capabilities that I thought were very interesting.”

At the same time, Halevi and the team at Northeastern had decided to revamp the athletics Website.

“We’ve had a streaming Website for three years now, and it’s been okay,” Halevi says. “It had okay-quality video and provided us with a platform to stream our games, but we wanted to move beyond that. We wanted really high-quality video and to provide a better experience for our fans.”

When Halevi started researching companies that could serve as partners for an enhanced experience on GoNU.TV, he kept bumping into Stretch Internet. He put together an RFP, detailing his dream scenario, regardless of price. He listed everything he wanted to add, from video quality and fan experience to functionality and service, and Stretch Internet turned out to be a perfect fit.

“They basically answered everything that we wanted,” Halevi says. “All of the functionalities that we were looking for, Stretch was working on.”

Video Trumps All
Four main features of the new player stand out to Halevi: video quality, platform compatibility, chat functionality, and live stats. First and foremost is video quality.

“It’s nice to have all these other features, but, if people can’t get a clean video feed, then it doesn’t really matter,” he says. “That’s what we were looking for first.”

Stretch Internet’s live and on-demand video player is powered by Flash and enables fans to purchase an individual game ($9.95), an individual-team season pass ($59.95), or the all-access pass ($79.95), which covers every live-streamed event during the 2010-11 school year. Once fans have registered for an account, they can view a list of live, on-demand, and archived content tailored to their purchase plan.

Any Platform, Any Time
The new GoNU.TV portal is compatible across platforms, so, in addition to working on desktop Macs and PCs, it offers mobile capability, with links only to audio and video content. It currently supports iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad and will add Android devices later this year.

“More and more people are switching to mobile platforms and want to get their content on the go,” Halevi points out. “If we have the best-quality video but people can’t get it where they are, then we’re not doing our job. This compatibility is a very important feature.”

Adding to the Conversation
Other functionality on this player includes a chat option, allowing fans watching games to chat amongst themselves. On-air commentators can monitor the chat and comment on fans’ reactions during the broadcasts. Currently, the player does not have any direct tie-ins with Facebook or Twitter, but Halevi can provide direct links from a live video to those sites, to entice fans to log in.

The player is also compatible with Northeastern’s sports-information platform, which allows live statistics to be integrated into the video player. “Especially if we have more than one game going on at the same time, if someone wants to watch soccer and get stats from field hockey, it’s easily done with this platform,” Halevi says.

Across the Globe
Halevi’s main goal with this upgraded Website is to reach as many fans, alumni, families of athletes, and families of opposing athletes as possible. With Northeastern’s co-op program frequently sending students around the world, Halevi hopes to show them that, with the new GoNU.TV, fans can get a great video feed anywhere they are.

“This is a really a big step up from what we’ve offered before,” he says. “We’re really excited to see what we can do with it.”

The new GoNU.TV will officially broadcast its first game, a women’s soccer match, on Sunday Aug. 22. However, Northeastern will provide a free live stream of the men’s soccer team’s exhibition against Boston University on Saturday Aug. 21 at 6 p.m. ET.

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