Some colleges may start passing on going for TV contracts and opt for web broadcasts of some or all of their athletic events.
This fall, ESPN's new online channel, ESPN 360, will show 30 football games. Ten of them will be web exclusives, and we're not talking just small schools. My older son's school, Virginia Tech, will be on there. The online channel is available to about 6 million homes, and will include chat rooms, statistics, and online polls.
Some smaller colleges as well as some entire athletic conferences are now using webcasting to get past the maze of cable availability to show their teams on their web sites. NJIT moved its athletic program up to Division One this year (I know, you thought we just had architects & engineers) and I have heard no plans for webcasting yet, but it seems like a good option for us.
The fact that big schools are putting games online indicates demand not only for the games, but also for new way of viewing/hearing sports.
It won't replace television coverage. The best HDTV seems to be sports right now. (Wow, I can see every bead of sweat!) Conferences can make millions of dollars from their football and basketball television contracts. The appeal may be for smaller sports.
The Big Ten Conference announced plans this past June to create its own cable channel for "minor" sports like volleyball & swimming. The Big Ten Channel will be available on cable, but also through the internet, iPods, cell phones, and whatever comes next. Now, I can watch some of my alma mater, Rutgers, online. (Now, if Rutgers would just stop cutting "minor" team programs. I can't believe there won't be a crew team rowing on the banks of the old Raritan anymore!)
Links to try: