Campus Insiders Is The First Digital-Only Free College Sports Network

Campus Insiders Is The First Digital-Only Free College Sports Network

Campus Insiders Is The First Digital-Only Free College Sports Network

Campus Insiders is the first digital-only college sports network. Campus Insiders sports technology features original LIVE HD programming. Their current lineup includes 15 exclusive college football games this season, available exclusively at CampusInsiders.com. Campus Insiders is a partnership between IMG College and Silver Chalice, whose chairman and founder is Chicago Bulls and White Sox owner, Jerry Reinsdorf.  The Sports Techie community blog was privileged to speak with Crowley Sullivan, formerly an award-winning producer and programming executive for ESPN, and now the appointed General Manager of Campus Insiders, about their business plans.

Campus Insiders sports technology features original LIVE HD programming

Campus Insiders sports technology features original LIVE HD programming

Campus Insiders

The new International network will also feature original programs hosted by two of the industry’s most well-respected journalists – Bonnie Bernstein and Seth Davis. “The Download with Bonnie Bernstein” airs daily, Monday through Friday, at 1 p.m. ET, while “The Seth Davis Show” airs at 1:30 p.m. ET Mondays and Fridays each week. Both flagship programs feature a mix of compelling guests, insider news, constant analysis and global viewer engagement. Sullivan said, “The aim to be the biggest brand in all of college sports.”

Campus Insiders will stream live games and school-produced events across all sports from the Mountain West Conference, the Patriot League, and the West Coast Conference. Campus Insiders began streaming live college football games this season, starting with five exclusive Mountain West contests, broadcasted on the Mountain West Network, powered by Campus Insiders in High Definition.

Additionally, Campus Insiders will broadcast ten more Mountain West football games in partnership with ROOT SPORTS.  These contests will be available on the MWN, powered by Campus Insiders to markets outside of the ROOT SPORTS footprint. The Patriot League Network, powered by Campus Insiders will include broadcasts from 11 schools offering more than 250 events in the fall for football, soccer, volleyball and field hockey. Campus Insiders will broadcast a schedule of featured West Coast Conference Olympic sports including men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

I asked him how the SEC, Pac-12 and Big-10, and other conferences, look at Campus Insider working with individual institutions. He responded saying, “They are not in the way and we are intending to help build collegiate brands.”

Insiders

Driving the debate, insights, and analysis of Campus Insiders will be the network’s unprecedented roster of established journalists on the ground on campuses across the nation, with insider knowledge about their respective college teams and instantaneous access to breaking news.  These “Insiders” – embedded within the fabric of the athletic programs they cover – will appear regularly within live and Video On Demand programming in order to deliver the most relevant news and information in the market.

In addition to all of the programming, Campus Insiders will unveil a robust written editorial component to its platform.  Pete Fiutak – publisher of www.collegefootballnews.com – has joined Campus Insiders and will serve as the platform’s Managing Editor.  Fiutak will oversee the broad editorial offerings of a substantial collection of journalists from around the nation as he builds a service for college sports fans that will provide opinion columns, team and game previews, game reviews, bowl projections, March Madness coverage, and a constant flow of news and information addressing all of the issues of college sports.

I did not know that the state-of-the-art Harpo Studios in Chicago is the, “Envy of most TV operations,” according to Sullivan. Most video we see is created with a green room in a closet size room. Their studio base programming competitive edge has led to growth that includes all kinds of content for the college fan.

Distribution Network

With content available on multiple platforms and distribution points, including USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties, YouTube, Synacor’s cable, satellite and telecom customer portals, Dailymotion, MobiTV, OVGuide, blinkx and Roku, Campus Insiders reaches more than 23 million people on a monthly basis.

The platform was in a beta state for over a year. They now have the infrastructure in place for partners who have digital portals to distribute content. Their personality driven, studio based, original programing of live events that numbers in the thousands is an evolving and growing vision for live college event distribution.

Networks have sub networks at Campus Insider. The Fox Sports model is similar in that under their corporate umbrella they have Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports Detroit and so on. Another example is Michigan State University and drilling down on their multiple distribution channels that includes the Detroit News video page with multiple sports listed and archived. This video on demand business model can be multiplied by 1,000’s of Universities. They can take a 30 minute show and edit it down to two minute clips around topics and distribute throughout social media channels.

The network launched its mobile application this summer that was programmed in Boulder, providing an interactive user experience with breaking news and video alerts, insider reports from college campuses, daily original programming and video-on-demand. The app is free to download and available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

IMG and Silver Chalice

Campus Insiders is a partnership between IMG College, America’s leading collegiate marketing agency, and Silver Chalice, whose chairman and founder is Chicago Bulls and White Sox owner, Jerry Reinsdorf. Crowley Sullivan, an award-winning producer and programming executive formerly for ESPN, was appointed General Manager of Campus Insiders this spring.

Crowley Sullivan

Sullivan is highly experienced in sports media business with over fifteen years as a content producer. Right off the bat during our discussion as he was traveling through an airport check in and was watching my four month old baby, I could sense that the 42 year old was extremely truthful exclaiming that he is, “Happy to be paid to get excited about college sports.”

Hired by Mark Shapiro in 1999, he developed programming for ESPN Classic and ESPN News over a ten year career there. I enjoyed hearing about his influence with the show “Season on the Brink” about Bobby Knight. He enjoys longer form journalism, a wonderful trend I see making a comeback. How many articles can a Sports Techie read that consist of two paragraphs, a picture and a quote, and consider that credible journalism. Campus Insider written editorial includes Sullivan’s own newsletter type blog.

He and his wife are 24 hours a day soccer parents which we hope to be with our baby son. What I liked best about him though besides his pioneering career, was his MSU background as a student. I grew up in East Lansing through first grade while my Dad went to school and worked for the athletic department there so we bonded easily and Spartans stories started flying out of our mouths.

Campus Insiders journalist Bonnie Bernstein is joined by George Pyne, President of IMG & Ben Sutton, President of IMG College

Campus Insiders journalist Bonnie Bernstein is joined by George Pyne, President of IMG & Ben Sutton, President of IMG College

Bonnie and Seth

Sullivan insisted that they, “Hired name brand talent that have earned credibility and are Industry veterans.” Bonnie and Seth are those people.

“The Download with Bonnie Bernstein” is a live, daily look inside the world of college sports featuring news, studio analysis and debate, and incorporating viewer social media engagement in real-time. Produced from the acclaimed HARPO Studios in Chicago, the half-hour program streams daily, Monday through Friday, at 1 p.m. ET. Bernstein also serves as Vice President of Content and Brand Development for Campus Insiders.

“The Seth Davis Show” airs Mondays and Fridays from 1:30 – 2 p.m. ET, from Los Angeles and various remote locations, featuring in-depth guest interviews with some of the biggest names in college football, including Bob Stoops from the University of Oklahoma, Mack Brown of the University of Texas, Steve Spurrier of the University of South Carolina and Les Miles of LSU within the show’s first weeks on-air. Viewers can also follow along via Twitter as Davis, also of Sports Illustrated, and his guests tweet live from the studio to answer questions and engage in an online dialogue.

Seth Davis is what Crowley calls, “Intimate and provocative.” They are filming Seth in a conversational style interview sessions in the realm of what Chicago superstar, Oprah Winfrey, now does. I gave Oprah credit to Crowley for transitioning her career to this type of interview format that led to her ability to break the Lance Armstrong story, which made him laugh in agreement.

SportsBiz

In one year, the startup company has grown at breakneck speeds. His plans are to grow the business to be a destination site down the road for both the die hard and casual fan. They have constructed a proprietary college sports platform for the International fan.  Revenue is coming in through advertising. Advertising pre-roll on the monitors are on example.

Investment was made by IMG as a joint venture. Catalyst, an IMG consulting company, has provided PR support that has allowed them to create synergistic partnerships and have more access to the college landscape.

I asked him how sports technology has impacted Campus Insider. He felt there video on demand technology and their second screen mobile device focus has provided them with strong positioning through their advanced sport tech, to have fan appeal, sponsor activation and an analytics bonanza.

Next, I was curious about their similarity to Scout.com. He said, “The insight and analysis provided and then promoted on a site such as SpartanMag.com is unlike the Rivals model.”

I wondered to him whether Campus Insider would always stay free of charge. He said, “The answer is yes, it is part of the authentication of their brand.” He sees a time in the near future when every college will want Campus Insider.

Social Media Strategy

Their Twitter user name has over 3,000 fans while their Facebook fan page has over 35,000 likes. I queried him as to why they are having a slow Twitter start. Sullivan mentioned how they are just now emphasizing social media marketing and last month hired a full time social media director. They are on a path to follow well laid out plans and continue the growth process in stages. He believes their digital platform underwent a strategic waiting period and is now is in the right space to perform eye popping social media metrics.

The web site look and fell is a rebrand that took about seven weeks for the programming team in Boulder to finalize and introduce the new social media branding components.

Big Data

I asked how the explosion of Big Data and analytics influenced their business plans. “We want to measure ourselves,” says Crowley. Their hardworking team of analysts is gathering the analytics and dissecting the numbers with goals in view. “We are still in an early stage for this part of the branding building process,” said Sullivan.

“They have about 75 core Insiders who’s DNA is dialed into the athletic program they cover,” said Sullican. Play by play, announcers, former players and coaches, plus people who ride the team bus and have access to the locker room are on board, before and after the game. Real analysis via the Trojans football team plane ride was provided when USC Head Coach Lane Kiffen was recently fired after they lost. Experts like broadcaster, Jim Lachey, are on speed dial. Proven veterans such as Rich Cellini call the play-by-play and former NFL executive Ted Sundquist provides unique analysis.

In Depth Look At Oregon’s Uniforms | Campus Insiders

Oregon Ducks

The Oregon Ducks are on the web site navigation bar to give you a perspective as to how important they are in the scheme of college sports and to Campus Insider. High-profile placement like that is because the Ducks athletic program, backed by Ultra Sports Techie Phil Knight, alumni and Nike founder, were early impact adopters. The production team in Eugene is creating school supported content dedicated to Oregon and their fans.

Shop

Their web site Shop is outsourced to Football Fanatics, a third party vendor, and for now is in its infancy in terms of a revenue stream source.

Animation

The animation of Bonnie is a sign they are looking to bring the “fun” back to sports. He referred back to a not so distant time when sports had a more innocent and pure nature as opposed to today’s sportsbiz drive. Look for additional graphics, animation and augmented reality to complement their “fun” agenda.

Exit Strategy

It is easy to wonder about their exit strategy because of the amount of 24/7 sport channels. It used to be only ESPN and now has FS1, CBSSN and NBCSN for fanatic fans viewing pleasure. All these brands have cash to burn so it is logical to suspect that they could easily purchase Campus Insiders at any time so they can own their compelling content, technology and people. Crowley told me that Jerry is the person to discuss that with. The amount of money invested by Silver Chalice was also not disclosed when I asked him about it, he said to leave that answer to Jerry too.

About Campus Insiders
Campus Insiders serves college sports fans by creating timely, relevant, and behind the scenes content, programming, products and destinations, and live events that go beyond the standard and give fans a unique, inside perspective, all delivered through the strength of a smart technology experience. 

About First Round Media
First Round Media, LLC creates digital product experiences and video properties for digital distribution. The Company develops infrastructure, digital assets, and operations designed to create a leading digital platform for producing and distributing, audio-visual, college sports-themed content (including game highlights).  First Round Media’s first property is Campus Insiders, which showcases exclusive video content, national and local coverage, and in-depth analysis for college football and basketball.

First Round Media is a division of Silver Chalice New Media. The Silver Chalice team operates offices out of Boulder and Chicago, with additional satellite sales offices in New York and Los Angeles. Silver Chalice is an equal opportunity employer.

Sports Techie, The first digital-only sports network that features a proven team of insiders on College campuses providing news and analysis is smart sports business plan. The live digital broadcast of 1,000’s of collegiate games, ranging from football to the Olympic Sports, is a breathtaking endeavor.

For avid college sport fans who enjoy game previews, reviews and inside analysis in real-time, Campus Insider was created especially for you. Their own channel is also a breeding ground for talent.

All worldwide college sports fans, fanatics and junkies can access the leading sports portal that delivers the content you want via Campus Insider.

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