Big East Conference Boosts Fan Engagement With Cloud-Based Production

NEW YORK—Many ingredients go into building fan interest and loyalty, but among the most important is that special bond with a team or players that promotes a sense of personal investment in their successes and failures.

Central to that connection is communications—not simply the call and color of broadcast game coverage, but also the rapport nurtured through two-way fan interaction.

The Big East Conference earlier this year took a new step in that direction when it deployed a cloud-based video production platform from Graybo to promote fan interaction.

“We’re always looking to increase fan engagement through our live video production,” says Rick Gentile, senior associate commissioner, broadcasting, at the Big East Conference. “Grabyo’s interactive capabilities, specifically regarding Big East Shootaround and our other live shows, has helped grow overall engagement.”

The Graybo platform is used to create interactive shoulder content for the conference’s weekly Big East Shootaround, a digital-first production focused on men’s basketball. Men’s and women’s basketball content from around the conference and perspective given during the #BigEasthoops Q&A are integrated into the Big East Shootaround show.

The platform allows producers of live conference streams to add custom graphics and engage fans with tools like native polling and real-time data visualization driven by audience comments.

“Making the experience interactive with live content on social and digital platforms has been shown to increase engagement and drive more viewership for publishers,” says Graybo President Mike Kelley. “It allows fans to feel like they are part of the show when they see their questions appear in the show.”

“The Big East is trying to quickly evolve with the times in terms of trying to reach their fans in real time on these social platforms as well as their OTT services,” he says.

The platform also gives the conference the ability to go direct to fans, reaching them whenever they want without having to rely on a broadcast channel, says Kelley.

Graybo licenses its cloud-based video production platform using a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. The platform allows organizations like the Big East Conference to manage video content, create real-time clips and highlights and produce and deliver live shows to multiple social channels as well as via their own websites and apps.

The IP-based Graybo Producer platform allows entire video productions to be done in the cloud. It supports switching of up to 10 different video feeds in real time as well as overlays of graphics and up to eight layers. Run from a web browser, the product also offers producers a comment moderation tool to screen fan input to make sure it is appropriate.

“Engaging sports fans in real-time across social channels is paramount to any college’s marketing and distribution strategy,” says Kelley. “As these fans look to access video across a variety of platforms and devices, this partnership will ensure the Big East’s content will be top of mind for them.”

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.