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Ryan Teeples: BYU sports is for BYUtv, not the other way around

Published: Wednesday, June 19 2013 11:20 a.m. MDT

Idaho Vandals running back Ryan Bass (5) runs for a first down during first half action as BYU plays Idaho in the Cougar's final home football game on 2012 Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012,in Provo, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

BYUtv loaded up its HD semi-truck last week for a cross-country road trip to our nation’s capital.

No, one of the Cougar teams wasn’t playing Georgetown. Rather, the truck and BYUtv brass made the trek to Washington, D.C., for "The Cable Show," a broadcast entertainment conference where cable network execs at the local and national levels gather to see what’s new in the industry and discuss emerging trends.

To capitalize on the fact that thousands would see the truck en route, Big Blue (as it’s affectionately called at the network) was given a marketing-makeover.

When a BYUtv blog post showed the HD truck’s new advertising wrap, many Cougar fans — on social media and message boards — expressed confusion and even concern that BYU athletics wasn’t the major focus of the imagery on the truck.

Instead of a larger-than-life image of Kyle Van Noy or Tyler Haws, the truck promoted headshots of the quirky Studio C personalities and the Granite Flats crew. While athletics is represented with a montage of Cougar sports, the majority of the truck was reserved for BYUtv’s other original programming.

Many Brigham Young University athletics fan see BYUtv and BYU athletics broadcasts as synonymous. But once you understand the mission of BYUtv, athletics’ role in fulfilling those related business goals becomes very clear.

Stated simply: BYU athletics is a means to BYUtv, not an end.

A unique mission in television

For BYUtv, the overall goal of attending "The Cable Show" is to expose national and regional TV providers — and the industry at large — to BYUtv and the brand of programming it delivers. While athletics is a big part of that, it’s just that — a part.

Just as BYU athletics is forging a new path in college sports, BYUtv is doing the same in cable television by providing appealing, original, quality family-friendly programming.

“BYUtv is unique because it challenges traditional national and international TV network models with the primary mission of ‘seeing the good in the world,’” Mikel Minor, senior coordinating producer for BYUtv, said.

"Because BYUtv is so unique, the industry is adjusting to its presence. There is a learning curve and an educational public relations opportunity involved in launching and establishing traction with a TV network that does challenge the traditional norm — yet there are constant and clear success indicators. Perhaps the key challenge is overcoming and dispelling any assumptions and stereotypes that may be associated with the foundational culture of the university,” he continued.

Minor came to BYUtv after seven years as a coordinating producer at ESPN where he mostly worked on "SportsCenter." Across the board, BYUtv has sought and brought in talent from the industry to ensure that it provides unique content with extremely high production value.

By doing so, BYUtv generates an audience of loyal, like-minded people who can find programming that matches its values.

There’s nothing in the network’s mission statement about religion or faith. Regardless of religious affiliation, or even a lack thereof, BYUtv seeks to provide content that appeals to anyone looking for uplifting television.

The model assumes that once people see what BYUtv is about, there will be a natural interest in the LDS Church and its mission as well. Exposure for the LDS Church is an added benefit all its own.

Sound familiar, Cougar fans?

The role of athletics

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