SBJ/September 3-9, 2012/Colleges

In-stadium network adds screens

Ohio State among four big new clients for College Gametime Network

College Gametime Network, the product that builds advertising and other content into live video feeds inside college venues, has added four premium schools — Ohio State, Oregon, Auburn and Mississippi — and now has a client list that reaches 30.

A Charlotte-based company, 10 Foot Wave, launched College Gametime Network in 2009 as a way to spice up the in-house video feeds that go to screens throughout college football stadiums and basketball arenas.

The software takes the in-house feed and blends other content, such as lineups, stats and trivia around the perimeter of the screen. It also builds in advertising inventory on the screen that the network shares with the school’s multimedia rights holder.

College Gametime Nework adds content and ads to video feeds at schools like Arizona.
Virginia was the first school to jump on board, and Georgia, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Tennessee and South Carolina soon followed. Most of CGN’s clients are schools in the ACC and SEC, but the network is gradually moving west, with the addition of Oregon and, earlier, Arizona, marking important steps.

Earlier this year, East Carolina and Washington State signed with the network, and Ohio State was among the most recent additions to continue the company’s steady growth. The deal with the Buckeyes provides the network with 500 screens in and around Ohio Stadium, making it the largest property in the network.

College Gametime Network touts that screens in its football and basketball facilities will reach 17 million fans at 700 football and basketball games in 2012-13.

“Schools are putting a lot of resources into the fan experience in most stadiums, so our product is a conversation most people are willing to have,” said Shawn Becket, general manager and senior vice president of CGN. “This is an opportunity to generate new revenue from a source that most schools haven’t been monetizing in the past.”

The ad inventory typically is split between the schools’ rights holders and the network. Whatever CGN sells, it keeps, and likewise for the rights holder.

Schools are using the inventory to package into their corporate sponsorship deals.

CGN, on the other hand, sells its inventory on a cost-per-thousand basis, and uses a variety of third parties to help sell the advertising across what is becoming an increasingly national platform.

Among the third parties that CGN works with are companies that aggregate and sell advertising inventory, both at sporting events and in non-sports environments, like Access Sports Media, Brand Boards (a company co-founded by former Anheuser-Busch marketing executive Tim Schoen) and Vukunet, an NEC company.

“We’re looking at this as a national network that gives advertisers broad coverage,” Becket said.

Often, the new ad inventory is not spelled out in the contracts between schools and their rights holders, like an IMG College or Learfield, so there can be uncertainty as to who controls it.

CGN’s Becket, a former property general manager at Pittsburgh and Baylor, said the rights holder usually has to go back to the school to negotiate the terms for the inventory. Once that’s settled, CGN does its contract directly with the rights holder, although “I think it’s really important to talk to the associate AD in charge of fan engagement as well,” Becket said. “If the school is on board, it usually helps push along the conversation with the rights holder.”

Each school receives the software and any necessary equipment for free to get CGN integrated into the stadium video feed.

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