SHSU, ESPN3 Shake Hands in New Partnership

The Sam Houston State brand just got a whole lot bigger.

SHSU athletics will have a new home for live streaming video this season. Select home games will now be viewable on ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, ESPN3.

“We are very excited to be able to partner with ESPN to bring Sam Houston athletics to a larger viewing audience,” Director of Athletics Bobby Williams said in a July interview. “We started last season by committing to televising all of our football games for the first time in school history, and we feel like this is the natural next step, and we are happy to be able to take that step with such a recognized television brand like ESPN.”

One of the main bonuses that ESPN3 provides is their accessibility. Since the network is based on live streaming, fans from all over the nation can access games and watch from their computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices through WatchESPN.

“This partnership with ESPN3 gives us a chance to put more of our games out on a national platform for people to watch,” said Jason Barfield, Athletic Director for Media Relations and Head of Bearkat Sports Network. “It’ll be easier to access our games now and it gives us a brand that everyone recognizes.”

Last school year, every football game was broadcasted on Fox Sports. Only a select few men’s and women’s basketball games were broadcasted nationally.

The new partnership with ESPN3 will now give the soccer, volleyball, baseball and softball teams a taste of national exposure.

“I think the deal is great on a lot of different levels,” Barfield said. “Our football program has always had national exposure, but now we are going to be able to take this coverage to soccer and volleyball, as well as to baseball and softball this spring. We are going to give some of our programs exposure that they have never had before.”

Softball pitcher Lindsey McLeod is excited about the opportunity to showcase her team’s skills to a larger audience.

“I’ve watched softball on ESPN since I was pretty young,” the sophomore said. “It’s so exciting that we have the chance to play on a national platform now for other people to watch.”

The athletic teams are not the only ones benefitting from the ESPN3 deal. Student workers for the Bearkat Sports Network as well as students from the new sports broadcasting class in the Mass Communications department will also gain an advantage with this partnership.

“The other big positive from this deal is from a student worker standpoint,” Barfield said. “They are going to be working on a live ESPN production; so they’re going to get their hands on the exact same equipment that ESPN is requiring for all of their ESPN3 broadcasts. Everything that they’re going to be using is going to be stuff that they can put on a resume and will only help them get jobs moving forward.”

Most of the Southland Conference schools that have deals with ESPN3 outsource a lot of the production work. SHSU has chosen a different production rout in order to provide students with career building experience.

SHSU Online, the Bearkat Sports Network and the sports broadcasting class will handle most of the production for ESPN3.

“We will outsource production work for football just because of the magnitude and the need to get it right, but most of the ESPN3 broadcasts will be produced internally by SHSU students,” Barfield said. “The students are going to get experience that not very many college students are getting right now.”

Senior Mass Communications major and Bearkat Sports Network employee, Danielle Martin, will be sideline reporting for ESPN3 because of the new partnership.

“Being on ESPN has been a dream of mine since the moment I realized I loved journalism and I was beyond surprised when I got the offer,” Martin said. “SHSU provides many opportunities for students to pursue their dreams and I think the deal with ESPN3 will help student workers in the athletic department network and learn new techniques regarding their position.”

The first SHSU game that will be viewable on ESPN3 and WatchESPN is the football season opener against Oklahoma Panhandle State on Sept. 3, and later this fall, the Bearkat Sports Network will announce a list of games that will be included in the first year streaming agreement.

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