Maximizing Video Rights Is Focus of ‘Road to CSVS’ Debut Webinar

The high-stakes battle for television-rights deals has dominated the sports-business headlines, and nowhere has the competition been more volatile than in the college marketplace. It’s more important than ever for university video departments to understand what video is available to them and how they can best use it to see a strong financial return.

Tom Buffolano, chair of SVG’s College Sports Video Summit, was joined by Chris Bevilacqua, CEO of Bevilacqua Media Co., and Chris Wagner, co-founder/EVP of marketplace strategy at NeuLion, on Tuesday for the inaugural edition of the Road to CSVS Webinar series, titled “Maximize Your Video Rights — Your Most Important Asset.”

The Sports Video Group, in partnership with the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), hosted 250 industry professionals who were given a detailed outline on how any rightsholder can evaluate, build, and execute a sound strategy across multiple platforms.

To open the Webinar, Bevilacqua, the primary architect behind Pac 12 Media Enterprises (set to debut next summer), explained the business philosophy behind his latest project.

“For the Pac 12, we had to get out of the traditional mindset,” said Bevilacqua, who is widely considered one of the foremost experts in building successful startup networks. “There’s this recurring idea that this conference got this, so we should get that plus more. We were trying to look at this from the inside out … and across a broader scope of media.

“Let’s not think of this as selling a product to a middle man,” he added. “How can we think about creating a media company from the inside out? We spent the better part of 18 months crafting out a plan to establish how to take advantage of subscription TV while building an entity that controls the distribution of its own property. [Pac 12 Enterprises] is really a company on top of three subsidiary companies. It offers three discrete content packages.”

The first, and perhaps most important, thing that universities looking to maximize the ROI on their video rights should do is identify and understand what rights are available. That depends on what live-game rights have already been negotiated to networks and which other rights — additional live games, coach’s shows, highlights, full-game archives — are available for the university to showcase.

Second, after establishing your video rights and goals, draw up a suitable budget. For example, in addition to the funds required for appropriate gear, budget planners must consider specialized needs, such as having editors for highlight videos or stage crew for coach’s shows.

Wagner, whose company has seen a spike in development of college-athletics-centered mobile apps, also discussed the various cost-effective opportunities for colleges looking to break into the burgeoning second-screen market. Over-the-top authentications, athletic department Websites, partner Website and portals, tablets, and mobile devices are all valuable to video departments seeking to get the most out of their video. Mobile apps also open the door to a double revenue stream: subscriptions and advertising.

The fact is, not every conference or university will be able to strike a massive broadcast deal with ESPN. However, that does not mean there aren’t plenty of lucrative media opportunities available to even the smallest of mid-major programs.

“This is not a one-size-fits-all proposition,” concluded Bevilacqua. “Video is [a college athletic department’s] most valuable asset, and there are numerous ways to monetize it.”

The ‘Road to CSVS’ Webinar series is designed to explore topics that are critical to the success of video at the university-athletic-department level. SVG, in a partnership with NACDA, will host a new Webinar each month leading up to the fourth-annual College Sports Video Summit in Atlanta in June 2012.

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