Ryan Teeples: BYUtv uses sports, original programming to churn out highly-skilled TV grads
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Editor's note: This is part two of a two-part series surrounding BYUtv and its relationship with BYU athletics. Part one offers an inside look into BYUtv's facilities during a BYU football game. Teeples was an on-site observer of the gameday broadcast process in preparation for this series.
Discussion of Brigham Young University’s unique contract with ESPN usually focuses on ratings, exposure, recruiting and football-specific benefits.
But the Cougars’ deal with ESPN and its allowance for game rebroadcasts has also opened the door for BYUtv to flourish, not just as an outlet for fans to see games, but as an asset to the school’s students and the LDS Church, which owns it.
The mission of BYUtv is unique among television networks. Its tagline and mantra are “See the Good in the World,” and the network strives to bring values-based content to an audience seeking a safe haven for the family to watch without worry.
So what does this have to do with athletics? And how does it benefit the university and its students?
Athletics’ role in the model
BYUtv wants the membership of the LDS Church and the world at large to come into its house and see what it has to offer, and athletics is the front door.
There are lots of promotions for the network’s original programming during games, pregame and postgame shows and rebroadcasts. Plus, fans who watch BYU sports video clips online can’t do so without exposure to BYUtv’s other offerings. That’s why BYU was so keen on finding a TV contract that would accommodate its network.
The network believes that while they may be drawn by athletics, once people see the non-sports content, they’ll stay for the clean, quality programming and associate those values with BYU and the church.
A unique opportunity for students
Kevin J. Worthen, vice president of advancement at BYU, who is responsible for both athletics and broadcasting at the school, explains how Cougar sports and academics benefit from each other in this unique arrangement.
"BYUtv contributes to the university in so many ways, not the least of which is its extensive national and international reach providing increased exposure and fan access to almost every BYU sport, greatly enhancing athletics' role as a representative of the university and its values. It is wonderful that BYU Broadcasting can do all of this while also providing hundreds of student employees a real-world professional experience in the broadcasting industry," Worthen said, calling students the “secret ingredient” to BYUtv’s success thus far.
During any given broadcast, whether athletics or other, as much as 70 percent of the production crew may be students. Whether it’s cameramen, lights and sound, graphics, editing, engineering or even assisting with directing and producing, BYUtv gives its broadcasting students a chance to learn by doing in a professional environment with top of the line equipment.
“When they see this, my friends from ESPN say, ‘Are you kidding me? I would have killed for this kind of opportunity as a student!’ ” Mikel Minor, senior coordinating producer for athletics at BYUtv, said. Minor manages 40-50 students each game day along with paid professionals to produce football broadcasts.
Minor points out that nowhere in the country is there an opportunity for hands-on, professional broadcasting experience for students like at BYU.
ESPN has noticed too.
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