The 2017-2018 basketball season signaled a big step onto the national stage for Marist and it’s athletic department. The school, along with all of their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference counterparts, began broadcasting all basketball games on ESPN3, the online streaming service from the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
Marist takes a different spin on streaming than most schools, however. The streams are almost entirely student produced, which is an approach many other schools do not practice.
“Other than myself and Juliana, it’s all students,” said Meghan Graham, the Director of Athletic Multimedia.
All operations are based in the control room, which overlooks McCann Arena. Graham is both the producer and director of the broadcasts. It is the students, Graham went on to say, that are executing her directions.
“The Technical Director is sitting right next to me, who is a student, always.”
If a replay is needed, a graphic must be used or if it’s time for a certain song to be played, Marist students are pushing the buttons and operating the equipment to make it all happen. Other schools often hire professionals to completely produce their streams, but Graham is happy that Marist does not “contract out.”
“You don’t realize how much really goes into a production when you’re watching a game on TV,” said intern Jasper Chiu. “Ever since I started, I watch games differently and appreciate the production as much as the sport itself.”
Graham has four interns on staff that take part in every step of streaming production. She explained that she is lucky to work at a school with a great communications program, where students have the interest and some background knowledge to be involved.
However, this kind of broadcasting was not instituted seamlessly. Before the 2017-18 basketball season, ESPN professionals would broadcast a Marist game here and there, but nothing consistent or student-driven, for that matter.
There were some hiccups in the beginning of the season — changes that Chiu described as “really hectic.”
“Before ESPN3, our streams didn’t have commercials, replays or fancy graphics, so all of this was very new to us,” Chiu said.
To ensure broadcasts are top-notch, students are held to a high standard of equipment proficiency.
“I’m requiring them to come in for at least an hour to two hours to make sure they’re proficient with handling the camera,” Graham said. “They are working with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment.”
Graham stressed that this is not simply a watered down version of the real world. She described it as a fast paced and high intensity work environment in which students like Chiu have the opportunity to work with real ESPN graphics and equipment.
Though Marist could contract professionals to produce all of their streams, student involvement seems to be a long term plan with ESPN3. The program has many initiatives on the horizon, beginning this summer with renovations to the McCann Center.
A new, state-of-the-art control room is in the plans, as the current headquarters is about the size of a large closet packed with equipment. It is not the ideal size for an ESPN3 broadcast location, and if the program is to expand, an upgrade is necessary.
The new location will be what is now a classroom next to the Digital Media Suite. The plans incorporate a “teaching control room” where Graham will have the ability to have a full broadcast while also having students sit in and learn during a live setting.
With new infrastructure in the works, and a student population that is only becoming more knowledgeable, student-driven ESPN3 productions seem to have a bright future at Marist.
Down the road, it is possible that all Marist sports could be streamed on ESPN3, something that would provide massive opportunities to interested students.