May 7, 2024

According to Nielsen data, college basketball’s March Madness games have consistently been among the most-watched sporting events in the United States, drawing millions of viewers across broadcast and streaming platforms. A significant part of the tournament’s viewing appeal revolves around seeing tens of thousands of rabid fans attend games for high-profile matchups.
Andy Wagner,<br />
NFL & Collegiate Sports Entertainment Markets Lead, VITEC<br />
As a result, maximizing the venue experience has emerged as a critical imperative for tournament and venue decision-makers. It is in this context that internet protocol television (IPTV) technology is playing a rising role in supporting fan engagement across a growing number of major sports venues — including those hosting March Madness events.

To better understand the evolution of IPTV in collegiate sports, we caught up with Andy Wagner, who leads the NFL and collegiate sports entertainment markets for VITEC, a company that specializes in video encoding, decoding, and streaming solutions for various industries.

Here is what he had to say:

Q Thank you for taking the time to chat and put IPTV into the context of major collegiate sporting events. How would you describe the state of IPTV for college sports venues that host major events, such as the NCAA Basketball Tournament?

Andy Wagner: IPTV in college sports venues is rapidly emerging. It is playing an increasingly important role in defining — and even managing –the kind of experience colleges and university leaders want to deliver to a diverse fan base. In addition to students, we have alumni, parents, and fans from visiting teams, to name just a few members of the community that make up the fan base.

Also, unlike those who tune in to watch the tournament on TV, there is much more to these events than the games themselves. Most of the venues host multiple sports and entertainment events during this period. The audiovisual infrastructure at these locations must support the diversity of activity throughout the day during the tournament.

Addressing different requirements in an agile and effective manner was extremely challenging for legacy systems managing audiovisual assets like TVs and digital signage. IPTV, by contrast, is much more flexible and efficient in managing its facilities day to day.

This is mainly because IPTV systems can be integrated into institutions’ information technology networks and infrastructures. As a result, they can be remotely managed and monitored, allowing venue operators to quickly troubleshoot issues, update content, and ensure smooth operation without needing technician support at the screen level. Before IPTV, someone would have to go from screen to screen with a remote control to change channels or activate a digital signage program.

It is a game changer from a management standpoint.

During March Madness, for instance, IPTV allows managers to transform screens into advertising channels that cater to the specific audience attending different parts of the venue and support different types of events — from pep rallies to concerts — which often take place during the day of big games.

With IPTV, we can configure set-ups specifically designed for men’s basketball games. Then, with the push of a button, we can switch the venue’s configuration to support an entirely different set of requirements for the next night’s game, which could be a women’s basketball or volleyball match.

This flexibility enhances the fan experience in an operationally and financially effective manner. This is important as leaders look for ways to provide enhanced value to fans, encouraging them to attend events instead of watching from home.


Q Are there specific examples you can share that illustrate how IPTV is supporting major college sporting and campus life requirements?

Wagner: Two examples that come to mind are Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, La., and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

LSU manages over 1,400 displays across eight different facilities using IPTV. The technology allows venue managers to make changes and respond to the unique needs of different events in a very tailored manner.

The centralized control offered by IPTV systems allows them to make changes at their football facility, as well as in their basketball arena, baseball stadium, and softball field.

Meanwhile, the University of Notre Dame controls and manages approximately 800 displays across 14 different facilities, including athletic and academic spaces. It has allowed the university to be more dynamic and flexible in controlling and enhancing the experience of many communities within the institution.


Q What are the key factors college decision-makers need to consider to successfully deploy IPTV at historic sites and other major venues that host high-profile sporting events such as March Madness?

Wagner: While no two institutions are precisely alike in their objectives and requirements, there are key issues on which decision-makers should focus. They include:

  • Understanding each institution’s way of operating and finding IPTV solutions that conform and adapt to their specific needs and vision;
  • Having a clear vision of how the institution will apply the IPTV system. Leaders should carefully consider what role IPTV will play in enhancing campus life. While it is tempting to replicate what other schools are doing, it is not often possible to drop in an identical system; and
  • Focusing on fan engagement and providing value to fans to encourage them to attend the venue instead of watching from home. One of the main goals in sports today is to enhance the fan experience and provide value so that fans choose to come to the venue rather than watch from the comfort of their homes. IPTV can provide new ways of delivering this value.

Q How is VITEC working with colleges and universities to optimize returns on IPTV investments?

Wagner:  At VITEC, we are focused on future-proofing colleges and universities by constantly evolving our product based on customer feedback and feature requests. We are also making our systems more efficient, unlocking bandwidth for the athletic department to enhance fan engagement.

By using IPTV technology, we allow institutions to be flexible and adapt their audiovisual resources to the specific needs of different events and audiences.

When the flexibility offered by VITEC’s products is combined with our highly scalable architecture, venue managers can cost-effectively serve huge crowds and more modest attendance with ease.

last edited on: Tuesday, May 14, 2024