First Major Football Webcast May Lead to Revenue Boon
I t wasn’t hard to predict the outcome of the Sept. 2 football game between the University of Nebraska’s top-ranked team and unranked San Jose State.
But the folks at
FOXSports.com were predicting their own victory — that their live Webcast of the NCAA Division I-A match — the first college or professional football game ever broadcast on a major Web site — would be a hit.
And they were right. Nebraska won 49-13 , and FOXSports.com won more than 200,000 video streams worldwide.
Marking the first college or pro football game ever produced and shown on a Web site directly linked to a major TV network, the Webcast reached thousands of users who downloaded the necessary Quicktime, RealPlayer or Windows Player software applications.
“FOXSports.com is pleased that so many fans were able to watch the season opener,” says Danny Greenberg, senior vice president of FOXSports.com. “Based on the tremendous positive feedback, we’re already planning additional college football Webcasts. This is only the beginning.”
The free Webcast of the game included live video and audio from the game on FOXSports.com and Huskers.com, Nebraska’s athletic department Web site.
The idea for the Webcast was hatched after cable television’s FOX Sports Net, which holds the television rights to the game, opted not to show it.
“We saw this as a perfect time to move in,” says Greenberg.
The NFL has done Webcasts of events surrounding the Super Bowl, but never of live games. FOXSports.com has done Webcasts of regional all-star games, and a handful of colleges have experimented with game Webcasts, but this marked the first major effort of its kind.
Greenberg says Webcasts could eventually become a revenue source.
“This could lead to other opportunities,” he says. “It could become a regular programming feature, it could become a pay-per-view
Nebraska paid nothing for the Webcast and saw no profits.
For the Huskers’ part, there is no worry about the Webcast cutting into ticket sales. Nebraska, whose games are often televised, has sold out every home game since 1962.
“This is a great opportunity for Husker sports to be on the forefront of technology,” Nebraska athletic director Bill Byrne says.
“Nebraska football has a nationwide fan base, and this initial Webcast is one way we can try and reach out to our fans.”
Nebraska used its “HuskerVision” cameras — used to provide instant replays on large screens inside the stadium — for the video portion of the Webcast. The audio came from the Huskers’ radio broadcast team.
Could we eventually see popular Black college football classic Webcasts? Foxsports.com officials say anything is possible.
“If the opportunities are there and it’s a good fit, we’re naturally gonna try it out,” says a spokesman for the company.
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