Wingate University has signed an agreement with ESPN3 that will deliver live national coverage of 28 home sporting events, starting in the fall of 2015. The exclusive streaming agreement is a first for a Division II school. More from the Wingate press release here.
This is big deal. With the agreement with ESPN3, Wingate University games will be available to more than 99 million households world wide; 98.8 million who have never heard of the school nor it’s town of 3,500 residents.
Overall, Wingate has an impressive athletic program for a DII school. Their student-athletes compete in 22 different sports and have won the South Atlantic Conference Athletic Excellence Award for the past nine years. However, this doesn’t answer the question of Why Wingate? and Why Now?
3 Reasons Wingate & ESPN3 Makes Sense
- Wingate staff and students will handle the production of games.
“The Wingate Sports Network will continue to produce all of its on-campus events. Production, play-by-play, technical directors, replay technicians, graphics operators and camera operators, will be filled by Wingate students.”
ESPN will essentially be outsourcing the game day production needed to create a broadcast. With a typical NFL game having between 150–200 people involved in producing a game for live TV, a college game streaming to ESPN3 would only need a fraction of the labor. Even if it was 8–15 people, that would still be a $100k+ investment that ESPN is avoiding.
2. They have been doing it a while and have the equipment in place to produce games.
“Thanks to the incredible commitment from our administration and outstanding work and dedication from our student staff, we believe we have established ourselves as one of the top on-campus broadcasts in the country.”
Wingate clearly has a good track record of producing games. They have the people in place to produce games and all the HD cameras needed to stream games through ESPN3 network. This hardware needed to handle the production of 28 games is not cheap. This equipment is one of the biggest reasons they could strike a deal with ESPN3.
3. They will only stream home games.
“To be the first NCAA Division II institution to enter into an agreement with ESPN3 to deliver our regular season home athletic events is a strong endorsement of the outstanding work that our sports information staff in providing top quality produced events to our fans.”
Again, they have the cameras, hardware and people in place to do this. Other schools in their conference don’t.
What This Means For The Rest of D2/D3 Schools?
This deal with Wingate is clearly a low risk pilot program for ESPN. They invest little-to-nothing and can stream another segment of sports to the masses. It doesn’t matter that Wingate is an unknown school. Americans have an appetite for sports and watch everything from high school football to darts.
What level of impact will this have on other D2/D3 programs?..Only time will tell. All indications are that it will be significant. With cord cutters on the rise, distribution of content from ESPN3 through an Apple TV or Google Chromecast creates a level playing field across NCAA division. With the way ESPN3 is structured within Apple TV, I would be just as likely to find a game from Wingate as I would the University of Alabama.
Wingate has all the necessary resources already in place to make this a successful partnership. They can expect to see an uptick in enrollment, advertising partners and donations monies. For this to become a trend among smaller schools, the financial impact must be greater then the costs associated with developing an on-campus production team and the equipment to do it.
Check out this cool video of how the NFL broadcasts a football game.