Fans Optimistic About the Webcast of Nebraska's Season Opener
Universities usually have room to experiment within their broadcasting contracts, and the streaming of college sports has become rather mainstream this year. Yahoo!Broadcast announced last week that they had added 22 more collegiate teams to their roster, and FOXsports.com (http://www.FOXsports.com) captured the season opener for the pre-season #1 ranked team - the Nebraska Cornhuskers. FOXSports.com stated that they served more then 200,000 streams during the webcast on September 2nd.
Fans displayed mixed reactions to the webcast. A few sports bars in Lincoln displayed the webcast over their network of televisions. According to Chip Kary, of Bunkers Sports Bar, his bar worked with a technician from the local phone company, AllTel, to get high-speed access for the game. Bunkers then hired a second technician to send the webcast into the bar's video panel for display on all of their TVs.
Unfortunately, Bunkers lost the transmission at the beginning of the 2nd Quarter, and was unable to request the stream again. According to Kary, Bunkers didn't advertise that they would be broadcasting the webcast because they were not sure they could deliver.
"Looks like its is going to be a super thing in the future," stated Kary.
According to John Acunto, with FOXsports.com, there was serious demand for the game right when it started, and not everyone could log on. In Acunto's opinion, by the end of the first quarter everyone was able to sign on if they keep on trying. The webcast was also slightly delayed as compared to the radio.
Chris Anderson, Sports Information Director for the University of Nebraska, stated that the University chose the webcasting option because their contract with the Big 12 prohibited the television broadcast of the game. "We had to educate our fans, and let them know that there was no opportunity to broadcast the game on TV," Anderson stated. In general, however, the university felt that the feedback was very positive and they are considering webcasting more games in the future.
For those that signed on to the game there were interactive features such as real-time game stats, chats and a live scoreboard. The university's marketing agency, zUniversity, also launched their sweepstakes, "Guess the Score", during the game.
According to Greg Phillips of Fox Sports Net, Fox telecast a TV triple header on the same day as the webcast. Each game was available nationally, with most stations choosing to pick up the games. The TV games were each viewed by more then 400,000 people, or about twice as many as the webcast. Although, we don't know how many people viewed the whole game of those that requested the stream.
Nonetheless, the Nebraska webcast proved that the building blocks are in place. The alumni base is especially strong for college sports and nearly guarantees a national following. The numbers are not quite comparable to TV yet, but popular content can certainly drive audience participation.