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Volume 23 No. 29
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Colleges migrating to Facebook Live

The content being created by collegiate athletic departments is changing. So is the way it’s being distributed.

Schools now are looking for short, punchy videos with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage rather than the 30-minute production. That might be as simple as the team’s walk to the bus or its entrance into an arena. More and more, video coordinators with insider access — because they work for the school — are looking to push out their content as quickly as possible, which often means shooting on Facebook Live.

Winthrop showed its team arriving for the NCAA tourney in Milwaukee on Facebook.
That was certainly the case during last weekend’s opening rounds of the NCAA tournament. Whether it was third-seeded Oregon or 13th-seeded Winthrop, schools are pushing out as much live content as they can gather. One of the primary benefits for the schools is the ability to stream live content from an event, like a locker-room scene or the team breakfast at the hotel, without infringing on the broadcaster’s media rights.

“It’s really the best way for the most people to see your content,” said Everett Hutto, Winthrop’s director of new media.

Until the last year or two, the official athletic website was considered a school’s channel to deliver content. Often that content was a full-length news conference or perhaps a 30-minute insider show from football practice.

But schools are moving away from that kind of production in favor of live shots filmed and distributed on social media. At times, Winthrop’s director of video services, Jeremy Wynder, will activate Facebook Live on his phone and hand the device to students in the stands for spontaneous crowd reactions.

Craig Pintens, Oregon’s senior associate athletic director of media and public relations, said that kind of unscripted, reality content is more desirable than packaged shows.

“We spend a lot more time worrying about our content on social media than we do on our website,” Pintens said. “The website has become an archive for information, stats and stories. But for real content, Facebook Live and other social media platforms are where it’s at. It’s instantaneous. The world has changed and we’re looking for that content.”

Facebook, with an audience of 1.86 billion, simply is the best one-stop shop to get the school’s content in front of the most eyeballs, school officials say. There are 650 million people connected to at least one sports page on the platform.

The Ducks also are beefing up their video services by bringing in Brandon Barca from Vanderbilt to be the director of multimedia integration. Barca is charged with developing a roster of student talent at Oregon that can capture the videos and stream them live.

“We’ve got the access and we’ve got the behind-the-scenes content,” Pintens said. “The Ducks also have a large following on Facebook and that’s something we’re taking advantage of.”

— Michael Smith