St. John’s and ESPN Announce Streaming Deal

ESPN and St. John’s have announced a new 60-game contract that will air games produced by students for all athletic teams on a variety of platforms on ESPN3.

The deal makes St. John’s the sixth school in the nation that has teamed with the network on this type of arrangement. The other schools include North Carolina State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Clemson. Of the six schools, St. John’s says it will have the most broadcasted games this season.

“In the coming years, we hope to have as many as 110 of these games that will be produced on campus, in part by our students, and aired on a national platform,” said St. John’s Senior Associate Athletics Director of Communications Mark Fratto. For now, Fratto’s focus is “for as many home games to be aired in as many sports as possible.”

The agreement means that student-produced athletic events on STJ-TV will be aired on ESPN3 without the network having to bring in its own crew. ESPN3 is available to more than 83 million households, including 15 million in the New York City area, according to Fratto, and can be watched on computers, tablets, smartphones and televisions and Xbox live.

One of the most prominent aspects about the deal, Fratto said, is that it presents an entirely new learning experience for students in the communications department.

A practicum course offered at St. John’s requires students to attend a once-a-week class taught by Susan Weber, director of the Television and Film Department, and complete 125 hours of work with the St. John’s Athletic Communications Department.

“[The initiative] is a great opportunity for students to work with professionals in live television an webcasting,” Weber said.

Weber believes that the experience that students garner from working with the high-tech equipment will help them with their future endeavors, as webcasting swiftly gains more prominence in the communications industry.

“Webcasting is becoming the new television,” Weber said. “Television will eventually become obsolete.”

To prove her assertions that the program will increase a student’s prospect of landing a job, Weber recounted how two former practicum students were recently hired by The New York Times.

“I received an email from The New York Times looking for graduates with tri-casting experience,” Weber said. “I sent them four names and two of them were hired.”

Weber also believes that the knowledge and skill-set being taught to the students within the program has not only aided their job searches, but also served the University.

“Because of the quality of the students [that were a part of the practicum], ESPN saw the quality of work within the [St. John’s Athletic Communications] department,” she said. “That’s what led to the contract.”