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Dick Harmon: BYUtv breaking new ground on sports coverage

Published: Monday, July 6 2015 6:10 a.m. MDT

PROVO — Derek Marquis has a front seat in witnessing a technological revolution: Delivering BYU athletic events to the four corners of the world.

The metamorphic change, a big chunk of it in the course of a few months, has been accomplished quicker than any collegiate sports entity in the nation.

Marquis is the managing director of BYU Broadcasting and oversees BYUtv, KBYU radio and television. He has become a point man in BYU's partnership with ESPN and he is overseeing progress in delivering broadcast exposure for BYU's sports brand and other programming.

As BYU breaks ties with the Mountain West Conference June 30 and moves many of its sports to the West Coast Conference while attempting independence in football, a myriad of digital enterprises will spider web across the globe.

BYUtv is currently broadcast in HD on Comcast in Utah, HD over-the-air in Utah and HD worldwide with live streaming at www.BYUtv.org.

Broadcasting the product in HD has been a priority.

This weekend, I asked Marquis to name theTop 3 mileposts BYUtv has achieved since the state of the art building and studio opened in February. I then asked him what expects the top advances will be in coming months.

The Done List

BYUtv is now producing and transmitting all content in full HD over the air as well as on Comcast in Utah (channel 647).

"We are working hard to secure additional HD carriage throughout the U.S. I wanted to make sure everyone knows our Internet stream is full HD," he said. "I'm pretty sure there isn't another university in the country that will have 140-live HD events online this year, let alone nationwide."

The new BYU Broadcasting Building is now fiber connected to the Marriott Center allowing BYUtv to produce events out of the Marriott Center directly from the control rooms in the building freeing up our new HD truck to be used simultaneously at other venues on campus.

"In the past, we had to pick and choose which events we would cover as we could only have our truck in one place at a time," he said. "In addition to the Marriott Center, we are also connecting the other key venues on campus to the new building which, again, will allow us to do multiple athletic events in the same day."

Since moving into the building, BYUtv produced its first games in partnership with the WCC when it produced eight of the WCC Basketball Tournament games from the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas in March.

"BYUtv produced and aired eight of the tournament games and ESPN produced four of the tournament games," he said. "(Of course, BYUtv didn't play in the tournament as we were still under the MWC in March, but our partnership with the WCC is now in full swing)."

Other mileposts and capabilities include a locally produced "True Blue" show hosted by Las Vegas TV personality Dave McCann. The station is producing a series to be released in the fall called "Legends" a look back at BYU's greatest players and coaches.

"We have several other sports and non-sports related series and specials currently in production," he said. "The new facilities give us capacity and capabilities we've simply not had heretofore."

The Coming-up List

BYUtv will air approximately 140 live BYU Athletics events/games in the coming year. This will be more live games airing nationally for BYU than at any year in the history. In addition, BYUtv will air approximately 80 other sports related programs and specials such as Legends, True Blue and other sports oriented programming bringing the total to well over 200 during the year. BYUtv is currently in approximately 60 million homes nationwide on Dish Network, DirecTV and over 500 cable systems.

BYU Broadcasting has also secured national carriage for BYU Radio on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. It will be on channel 143 and will launch nationwide to SiriusXM over 20 million subscribers on July 1st.

"We anticipate that most, if not all, of the live sporting events (the 140+) that air on BYUtv will also be carried nationwide on BYU Radio," he said. It is also anticipated that BYU Radio, through our partnership with KSL, will be carrying Greg Wrubell's KSL Radio play-by-play broadcasts for BYU football and basketball.

BYU Broadcasting is soon to launch both iPhone and iPad apps and prior to football season and will also be launching an entirely new website dedicated to BYUtv Sports.

"It will be highly interactive and will include hundreds of hours of video on demand (VOD) content not available anywhere else: live streaming, rebroadcast/VOD of ESPN games, including classic ESPN produced BYU games from the past (just one of the ways the BYU/ESPN partnership is going to benefit fans) and much more that will be announced in the very near future," he said.

I asked the director to expound on BYU's broadcast partner ESPN as an independent, an arrangement many BCS schools are studying carefully.

"The partnership between BYU, and specifically BYU Broadcasting and ESPN, has been strong from the very beginning when ESPN produced its first-ever regular season college football game, the matchup between Pittsburgh and BYU on Sept. 1, 1984," said Marquis.

"ESPN has always been generous in allowing BYU Broadcasting to rebroadcast its games on the university channel(s), including during the time that BYU was under the MWC," he said. "For example, ESPN was there for us when we asked for rights to rebroadcast BYU's 2009 win over the University of Oklahoma from Dallas Cowboys Stadium.

"We couldn't be happier to be back now in a formal partnership with ESPN and are looking forward to many great years ahead. It is truly remarkable to think that for the first time in BYU's history, every home football and men's basketball game will be televised live, nationwide, on either ESPN or BYUtv. (The year) 2011 will truly be an historic year for the Cougars and for Cougar fans regardless of where they live."

One thing 2011 will give BYU is exposure, a priority for BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson when original organizers of what came to be the MWC broadcast partners promised him BYU could rebroadcast games. That group, and those that followed through buyouts and acquisitions, reneged on those promises.

That issue ignited a lot of angst at BYU.

When Utah accepted a bid to go to the expanded Pac-12 last summer, it opened the door for BYU to advance its own remedy to gain greater exposure.

It remains to be seen how BYU can monetize sports on BYUtv and how many viewers will actually tune in. But if you don't build a bridge, you can't expect traffic, and this is all about traffic and eyeballs, not money, we are told.

That Marquis and company have expanded the broadcast footprint this fast, in less than a year, is astounding if not phenomenal.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company