- Letters to Editor
BY: WESLEY ROBINSON
Keeping up with Eastern’s sports teams has gotten a lot easier with the OVC Digital Network (OVCDN). Fans can even watch the OVC Conference Championships for men’s and women’s basketball on the network.
In July, the OVC and SADEARM Sports launched the OVCDN after the model of the Horizon League, which offers free content for anyone wanting to watch the conference’s teams play.
“It gets us exposure,” said Mike Clark, public relations director with Eastern’s athletic department. “We’re not getting games on ESPN, so this allows us to put our games on the Internet and people can watch for free.”
The OVC gave $49,500 to each school in the conference to purchase the equipment for streaming as a result additional funds the conference received because of the high performance of OVC schools in NCAA tournaments from Morehead and Murray.
The conference put money into the network and gave it to each school. Clark said this allowed the athletic department to purchase better cameras and a tri-caster, which allows the production director to switch cameras, add graphics and use instant replay.
The network also live streams most events in high definition.
All home games for football and men’s and women’s basketball have been the primary focus of the network for streaming, but sports such as volleyball, soccer, baseball and softball are also being streamed depending on the capabilities of each university’s capabilities.
“It’s not ESPN quality, but it’s a thousand times better than it was in past years,” Clark said. “Recruits can see it, fans can see it. You can watch all over the world and it’s free.”
Clark said the audience varies depending on the sport, but on average, basketball game gets about 500 viewers. The highest viewed event was a football game against Jacksonville State with 5,000 viewers. Each live stream displays how many people are viewing the game and allows users to connect with social media to share with other OVC fans.
The conference had been streaming sports online for seven years with Eastern participating for the last five years, Clark said. The new model allows users to view sports from a computer, tablet or smartphone without any fees or registration.
While media services are responsible for producing football, Broadcast and Electronic Media (BEM) students in the communications department film all basketball teams and volleyball.
Students in Video Production II work with Eastern Athletics to produce each game. Associate professor John Taylor instructs the course and said he is pleased students have the opportunity to learn in such a realistic environment.
“It allows me to train students in the way I’ve wanted to for a while,” Taylor said. “It’s real world stuff. They like that. You get a chance to work with professional equipment.”
David Miller, 32, is a BEM major from Heidelberg, Germany, who did play-by-play with volleyball through one of his courses. Miller also works with football, softball, baseball and basketball in various roles behind the camera and in the booth. He loves the hands-on experience because of the network.
“It provides us with our on outlet,” Miller said. “ESPN isn’t coming to do mid-major games, so people can see what we do at Eastern.”
Taylor said the students are developing new ideas for broadcasts and are constantly receiving feedback from viewers.
“It’s puts a little pressure on [the students], but its good pressure,” Taylor said.
Clark said the OVCDN has been successful so far and expects the network have more of a uniform look next year with quality, graphics, camera angles and the like.
“We still have a little ways to go to make it where the league wants it as a whole, but I’m sure [it will improve,]” Clark said.
To view games on the OVCDN visit ovcdigitalnetwork.com.