Collaboration with ESPN3 Benefits Students on Both Sides of the Camera
St. John’s University’s Television Network (STJ-TV) and ESPN have joined forces to carry 60 live, student-produced Red Storm sporting events that will appear on the popular ESPN3 network.
Each game — produced by a team of students, alumni and industry professionals — will be accessible in more than 83 million homes for fans who receive their Internet or video service from an affiliated provider. The University is one of six academic institutions in the United States to forge its own agreement with ESPN3 this year.
"We are excited about STJ-TV, our collaboration with ESPN3 and what this endeavor provides St. John's University in terms of exposure and a hands-on educational experience for students," said Chris Monasch ’81SVC, St. John's Director of Athletics. "This agreement was the culmination of emerging technology, hard work by our staff and an outstanding relationship with ESPN.”
VIDEO: Introducing the St. John's Television Network (STJ-TV)
Expanding Exposure in a Media Capital
The impetus to forge such an agreement emerged six years ago, when the Department of Athletics was seeking a new venue to showcase its student-athletes. “St. John’s is in the media capital of the world, but since we share the market with 10 professional sports teams and 100 other universities, it can be a challenge to get mainstream media coverage,” said Mark Fratto, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Communications.
To remedy this, Athletics launched the StormTracker All-Access service and began streaming athletic events on www.redstormsports.com. After converting the entire video-streaming operation to produce in full HD, StormTracker became STJ-TV, which is able to send the feed to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT, and other third-party networks for distribution.
Professional Experience for Students
Undergraduates who participate in the program gain practical experience working alongside veterans of the broadcast industry. “STJ-TV is the best thing I've been involved with at St. John's,” said Theresa Hynes ’13CPS. “The practicum class has given me experiences that have been invaluable for my education, and STJ-TV has given me the opportunity to learn so much more with live productions.”
The ESPN3 network is available locally via Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and Verizon FiOS TV on multiple screens including computers, tablets and smart phones. Gold members have access on Xbox LIVE.
According to Susan Weber, Associate Professor of Communication Arts in the College of Professional Studies, the experience will help students with their future endeavors, especially when it comes to Internet content. “Being on the cutting edge of digital production is a great opportunity for our students,” she said. She teaches a weekly practicum course that requires students to complete 125 hours of work with the communications division of the Department of Athletics.
The Finished Product
Since the agreement’s goal is to educate students while providing quality content for ESPN, the STJ-TV team uses much of the same production software and hardware as major television networks. The relationship also enables students to add valuable experience to their résumés, while strengthening their professional relationships.
In the future, St. John’s hopes to produce more than 100 games on campus, an aspiration that would benefit all parties involved. “The beautiful thing is that everybody wins,” Fratto said. “The school and student-athletes get an unprecedented amount of live sports exposure, the TV students get practical experience before they hit the job market and ESPN gets more live sports content from a major Division I school.”