Missouri Valley Conference and ESPN 3 working on contract

By Aaron Graff, @Aarongraff_DE

A subsection of the largest sports network in the world could be coming to campus.

ESPN 3 and the Missouri Valley Conference have been working on a contract that would require all court sports — men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball — to be televised on the website. Baseball and softball would follow the next year.

The home team of all conference games would be responsible for producing a stream.

Advertisement

Saluki Athletics Director of Video Services Shane Gibbons said he hopes the contract is finalized within the upcoming weeks.

“It’s hard to put into words how excited I am,” Gibbons said.

ESPN 3 broadcasts would essentially replace Saluki All-Access, which gives customers audio and video coverage of non-televised games. Saluki All-Access audio streams would continue. 

SIU broadcaster Mike Reis said ESPN does not want simulcasts, meaning his audio over their video, opening up opportunities for on-air talent.

Saluki All-Access, which costs $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year, does not require a cable package, but ESPN 3 would.

Gibbons said it would differ from Saluki All-Access slightly. He said the video team has to be more neutral than it is with Saluki All-Access. However, it can still run university commercials and Saluki Spotlights — features of SIU athletes and coaches — during halftime.

Reis said there are several hundred Saluki All-Access customers and ESPN 3 would be a good thing.

“There are so many more positives than negatives,” Reis said. “Really the only negative is a significant equipment investment. That means money at a time where it’s not really available. But it’s an investment and big things cost money.”

Gibbons said he is unsure of the total cost, but knows SIU would have to purchase and assemble a truck to act as a mobile control room and house the production equipment.  

Reis said if ESPN 3 came to SIU, it would be a good recruiting tool for the Department of Radio, Television and Digital Media.

Joe Frye, a junior from Grand Ridge studying radio and television said he is interested in being on-air talent.

“I think it’d be worth something investing in,” Frye said. “I know we’re not the biggest power house in any sport, but I think it would give us more exposure.”

Gibbons, who graduated from SIU in 2014, said he wants to stress how good of an opportunity it is for students, especially because they can be noticed by higher ups at ESPN.

“I had mentors that taught me things, but they only did that because they saw the want to in me,” he said. “That’s what I’m looking for out of the students.”

MVC Associate Commissioner Jack Watkins said he is confident a contract will be signed, but he was not in a position to comment on the new contract, as it has not yet been finalized. 

Aaron Graff can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 256.

Advertisement