Turner Sports, NCAA To Produce 30 Spring Championships for NCAA.com

Football and basketball seasons may be long over, but, in college sports, the real party is just beginning. This spring, the NCAA will crown 37 champions, and never has all of the action been more easily available than this year.

By June 3, Turner Sports and the NCAA will have produced a total of 30 championships streamed live exclusively on NCAA.com. The sports that will be carried on NCAA.com’s HD-quality stream include Division I men’s and women’s golf, Division I men’s and women’s tennis, National Collegiate men’s volleyball, National Collegiate women’s water polo, and Division II and III men’s lacrosse. The coverage will amass more than 400 combined hours of live streaming video from more than 200 events — on NCAA.com and the free NCAA Sports iPhone app.

“The spring is crazy,” says Jim Beahm, director of operations, NCAA Digital. “It’s the time of the year where we are streaming our most championships. Next weekend coming up is what we call our ‘hell week,’ and all of the different championships are happening at the same time.”

Turner and the NCAA treat all the championships like headlining events, rolling out mobile units to each site and using various models of NewTek’s TriCaster for switching, replay, and graphics (LiveText2). The preparation that goes into each championship is that of a major telecast; Beahm and his team will do site visits at any venues that NCAA.com hasn’t streamed a championship from before.

“Our user group can’t see their son or daughter or nephew or niece because it might be too far for them to travel,” says Beahm. “So, when they are watching their loved ones online, we want them to have the highest possible production level. We can’t do everything on TV, but this is the next best thing we can do.”

Camera complements vary, as one would expect, depending on the sport. Larger, spread-out events like golf get between eight and 10 cameras; more geographically compact events like tennis will have two per court. Baseball and softball games will have up to six cameras.

Beahm also notes that the production team doesn’t need a tremendous amount of bandwidth to get the broadcasts out to the public. Technology has advanced so that the equivalent of an Ethernet connection is sufficient for Turner and the NCAA to push 2 Mbps of HD-quality stream. They will request a static IP from the host site.

In addition to the live streaming, NCAA.com will serve as the official online and mobile hub for the NCAA spring championships. During the seven-week period, fans will have coverage of all 37 NCAA spring championships, including the College World Series, Women’s College World Series, and Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse Championships. The site will provide interactive tourney brackets, video highlights and features, live scores and stats, and editorial coverage.

Check out the complete schedule.