Categorized | Featured, Men's Gymnastics, NCAA

NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Live Video/Live Scoring Requires Some Tweaking

Posted on 16 April 2017 by admin

NCAA Men’s Gymnastics is a fantastic product, but it does have a few shortcomings.  Over the years, viewing options have certainly improved and grown in number.  Last season, the optimal team-streaming standard was via Ustream, and this year it’s Facebook Live.  The quality is great and it’s user-friendly.  The Facebook Live option is mostly good for dual meets, but with some imagination, it can work for a tri-meet or a quad-meet.  Oklahoma has a very good traditional cable/satellite live broadcasting deal with Fox Sports, but the offering is geographically limited.  The Big Ten has a great BTN option, which is available nationwide.  BTN had some outstanding broadcasts at the end of the season, featuring three dual meets on the next-to-last regular season weekend, followed by last weekend’s Big Ten Championships.

Special mention goes out to Illinois, because they live-streamed a handful of home dual meets on their website.  The video quality was excellent, and the broadcast was enhanced with informative student-athlete commentary.  Their meet formats were exactly how all dual meets ought to be run — One-event-at-a-time, so viewers were able to watch each and every routine.

About a half-dozen meets were broadcast on BTN Plus, but the problem with those broadcasts is that even cable/satellite subscribers were hit with an additional fee to watch.  That’s double-dipping, and it’s not kosher for a struggling sport.  Another flaw was the MPSF’s decision to stream their championship meet via Flo Gymnastics.  No problem with Flo Gymnastics, they provide a great service for the gymnastics community.  Charging $20 to watch the MPSF Championships, however, was a disservice to men’s gymnastics fans, especially for a generic feed without commentary and scoring information.  Other options (free) were available, but no explanation was given for the decision.  The Pac-12 Network live-streamed (free) the March 4 Oklahoma-Stanford meet, and that was a success.  Even a Facebook Live broadcast would have worked for the four-team MPSF Championships.  More viewers would have had access to the coverage, thus helping build the sport’s fan base.

Most teams are now providing live scoring, but there were some glaring omissions throughout the season.  Live scoring is still the premier means to promote the sport.  Even with a live stream or a live television broadcast, live scoring is still a necessity to capture the narrative of a meet.  Agreement among all the teams to provide live scoring ought to be a paramount policy.  Different scoring display platforms can still remain, but to continue to have a few highly ranked teams not provide such a simple service is not doing the sport any favors.  As for live team streams via Facebook, whichever team provides the service needs to show both teams in a dual meet.  Running the optimal meet format (one routine-at-a-time) would accommodate that.  Commentary is not necessary, but is certainly welcome.  The more information provided, the better the sport can be promoted to grow the fan base.

One last important thing… the 2017 NCAA Championships will be live streamed on the NCAA website.  Yes, a live-scoring feed will be provided!  After watching the 2017 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships on ESPN, it certainly would be nice if a similar broadcast for the men were in the offing.  Immediately before and after the women’s meet, ESPN broadcast the NCAA bowling championships.  Granted, bowling is a fairly popular family sport, but it’s mind boggling to imagine that such a bowling broadcast would generate more viewers than a championship broadcast of a popular Olympic sport like NCAA Men’s Gymnastics.  Even a delayed broadcast for the men would be better than outright omission.  We need to think bigger!

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