Webcasts transform college athletics

Ivy League: 'We don't have the issues of is there cable availability? Is there satellite availability? Is there advertising support?'

Can't find your favorite college sports team broadcast on television? Soon any sports fan will be able to hunker down with a cold beer and chips in front of the computer on log on to whatever game any small college bothers to webcast, reports The Associated Press.

"We can produce our own television and reach, literally, the entire world on the Web, without having to go through the issues of, is there cable availability? Is there satellite availability? Is there advertising support?" said Jeff Orleans, commissioner of the Ivy League.

Along with radio broadcasts, the Big Sky Conference's Northern Arizona has four cameras already set up to provide replays on the stadium scoreboard. They will webcast all football, basketball and volleyball games, using technology from Salt Lake City-based SportsCast Network LLC.

"Our fans love it," said Steven Shaff, a spokesman for the school's athletic department. "We had people in Alaska, parents of students in Canada, watching our games last year."

The advantage of downloading games into portable devices like an iPod, is that fans can watch or listen to games at their leisure.

"This is the future," Big Sky Commissioner Doug Fullerton said. "The fan will decide what they are going to watch and when they are going to watch it."

Now that more people have high-speed access, schools can afford to webcast online. Schools sell advertising and charge a subscription fee. — it's $60 to follow one Big Sky school all year. The schools share profits with SportsCast.

"There's still nothing like sitting in your chair and watching high-definition football on TV," said Jon Kasper, a spokesman for the Big Sky Conference. "But for our fans that don't have that option, this is the wave of the future. It's what everyone will be doing in two, three or five years."

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