St. John’s University announces streaming deal with ESPN

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ESPN3 will stream 60 of St. John's University's athletic events. Photo courtesy of St. John's Athletic Communications
ESPN3 will stream 60 of St. John's University's athletic events.

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

You can now watch the Johnnies on the go.

St. John’s University recently announced a streaming deal with ESPN3 that will bring 60 athletic events to more than 80 million households across the country on computers, smartphones, tablets and Xbox live.

St. John’s is the sixth school to reach such a deal. Other schools include North Carolina State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Clemson.

Besides the popular men’s basketball team, senior associate director of athletic communications Mark Fratto said the 60 games will encompass woman’s hoops, fencing, lacrosse, and more.

“We wanted a wider variety of programming,” Fratto said. “It actually started with the final baseball games last year.”

Fratto hopes to broadcast more than 100 games in the near future under a similar deal.

The games will be filmed and produced by STJ-TV, the campus’ athletic TV station. Students from STJ-TV will work alongside freelancing professionals in the broadcasting industry, according to director of multimedia services Sean McCluskey.

McCluskey explained that the games will be shot and produced at the site of the game. A signal will then be transmitted to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., where it will then be sent out nationwide.

Amy Rio, a senior studying TV and film and a member of the STJ-TV crew, believes that working to produce a game will transcend the education she’s received inside the classroom.

“What I’ve seen from working with the students is that the field time is when they really learn,” she said. “But that’s not because the class is poorly taught, it’s just the nature of learning production. Real life practice in a real live situation will teach you more than you’ll ever learn in a class.

Rio also believes the deal will also benefit the school in terms of attracting potential students.

“St. John’s isn’t known for its television production program and this deal with ESPN puts us on the map,” she said.  “[It] makes the university more appealing to students who are looking to go into the field of television, which is a great thing.”

Students participating in a TV and film practicum class will also be working to film and produce the games.

The practicum class is run by Professor Susan Weber. The class allows participating students to earn three credits in addition to working a minimum of 125 hours of field experience in working to broadcast the games.

The minimum hours might seem like a lot but, according to Weber, most students surpass this number with ease.

“It is real work, exciting and interesting,” she said. “Kind of addictive.”

Weber explained that students will meet inside the classroom once a week for lessons and training.

“In addition to some lecture, theory, discussion and review, during class time there are break-out sessions,” said Weber. “The class is divided into small groups; each group is paired with the professor, and with STJ-TV staff for training on various professional production procedures, techniques, and equipment.”

McCluskey said he works with the students enrolled in the course as a “tech manager,” teaching them how to work with equipment such as the cameras and switchboards used during the games.

Weber said the practicum course has been running since the spring 2012 semester, and plans are being made to incorporate students from different majors.

Fratto said St. John’s current TV contract is set to expire soon and they are considering their options.

“We want to see what rights are available to us to engage in a similar deal like this one,” he said.

 

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