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Volume 24 No. 159
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IMG Intercollegiate Athletic Forum: Digital Industry Maturing Around College Sports

Digital platforms are earning revenue for license holders and broadcasters, and five specialists from this world took the stage to discuss how the digital industry has matured around college sports. Big Ten Network VP/Digital & Interactive Media Michael Calderon talked about how the net produces web broadcasts for non-revenue-generating sports such as volleyball, lacrosse, field hockey and wrestling using student labor and inexpensive high definition cameras. Subscribers pay $9.99 a month to watch all of these sports for a specific school. “The decreased production cost and the additional platforms makes the distribution more available,” Calderon said. “This industry has taken off for us.” Thought Equity Motion CEO Kevin Schaff, whose company streams archived NCAA games online, said viewers watch regular archived content for 90 seconds on average. But with added statistical features and a function that lets viewers search for specific highlights, viewing time is up to 14 minutes on average. When asked about the prospect of cord-cutting, College Network Senior VP & GM Patty Hirsch said she is not worried about live sports being affected, even at the collegiate level. Hirsch said she believes future Apple TV products could change the model. “For people who only care about on-demand content, cut away,” she said.

Quick Hits:
* Calderon, on whether the Big Ten Network will shift additional programming online: "We have a handful of non-conference basketball games we will move to digital. But we don’t have any plans to take revenue generating programming off of the linear network."
* Schaff, on the future of digital content contracts: "People are trying to make the digital contract match the broadcast contract, and if you tie those up for 10-15 years you are making a huge mistake. You should make two-three term agreements that allow them to mature and revisit it.”