Athletics Web content outsourced

Sports fans watched more than 50,000 hours of athletics-related videos online in December, and the University’s Athletics Department hasn’t missed out on its piece of the pie.

Through its partnership with Internet content provider JumpTV, the department has gotten its share by setting up products and services on its Web site to serve Gophers fans, Tom Wistrcill, associate athletic director, said.

Some of the products include streaming video of live sporting events, a photo store and a platform for running auctions.

Besides providing content to fans, Wistrcill said the agreement makes sense for the department economically.

“It’s also a revenue generator for us at the department, as well,” he said, because users pay to see streaming video.

The Web site, Gophersports.com, previously received content and was powered by the Broadband Network business unit of XOS Technologies, which was acquired by JumpTV in September.

When the department was deciding how to handle its Web site content, it was faced with a decision between providing the content through in-house methods or outsourcing.

The department eventually chose to follow in the footsteps of other colleges and universities that have outsourced most of their online content – ultimately the more cost-effective option.

“We certainly decided that was the best avenue for us to go, as well,” Wistrcill said.

Because some of its online services are outsourced, athletics communications currently staffs one full-time webmaster, a lower number than is necessary for in-house operations.

“If we had to do everything on our own, we’d probably have three to five people that would be full-time involved in the Web site,” Wistrcill said.

The University of Wisconsin’s athletics Web site is the only one in the Big Ten that does not have a partnership with an outside content provider.

More than half of those Web sites are powered by College Sports TV. CSTV officials were not available for comment.

CSTV, which at one time had a 95 percent market share, is one of the biggest competitors to JumpTV, Nada Usina, JumpTV’s president, said.

JumpTV’s partnership with the University, which started through talks about two years ago, stems from the fact that many sports fans are looking online for digital content about their favorite teams or players.

“It’s about fishing where the fish are,” she said.

Usina said JumpTV market research shows that fans are looking for content at a more personal level – something possible through the Internet and mobile devices.

The company has partnerships with more than 150 colleges and universities, and provides more than 12,000 live streams of athletics events every school year, Usina said.

While major sports such as football and basketball are most often seen on TV, the virtual space available on the Internet allows for less popular events to be shown.

“We’ve really pumped a lot of resources into providing video content for other sports, and (JumpTV) is a great platform for that,” Wistrcill said.