Penn Sports Network and NewTek Team for Webcast Production

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The challenge for Penn Sports Network at the University of Pennsylvania is to produce high-quality live HD coverage of Penn collegiate sporting events that families, fans and alumni can depend on—using an all-student crew on a shoestring budget.

Subscribers to www.pennathletics.com can watch home and away conference games—including live coverage, on-demand programming and premium content—from anywhere on any Internet-connected device. Penn is also one of nine Ivy League schools feeding content to the Ivy League Digital Network.

Our streaming production operation is based on systems from NewTek, including a TriCaster 460 multicamera video unit for camera switching, multilayered graphics, virtual sets, and web and stadium scoreboard streaming. We also use NewTek’s 3Play 4800 integrated sports production system for slow motion, instant replay, multi-angle previews, in-game highlights and social media publishing.

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NewTek TriCaster at Franklin Field, the home football field of the University of Pennsylvania.

We were captivated by TriCaster’s workflow and how the functionality of a television production studio or high-end video truck is integrated in one box that a student can operate. You don’t have to piece different components together. Everything’s accessible from a single user interface, where a single operator can manage a complex, fast-paced series of production events.

The scope of the work that’s being done with our TriCasters has gone beyond what we originally envisioned. We’re now using them for live streaming, to produce coach’s shows, and to promote our student and recent alumni athletes. Last year we covered 150 events using our TriCaster and 3Play systems. This year we’ll exceed that level.

TriCaster’s integrated virtual set system keys graphical backgrounds and video clips into a greenscreen background and a virtual desk into the foreground. This gives the illusion that Penn coaches are sitting at an anchor desk in a broadcast TV studio. Replays and highlights created with 3Play are embedded into social media posts. During games, referees often watch replays from 3Play before making an official call on close plays.

Once, a highlight of a buzzer-beater during a men’s basketball game was picked up by ESPN. When the PSN clip played on SportsCenter, it was our little-kid-on-Christmas-morning moment. That’s our team. Those are our kids, and that’s our video product on a national sports show.

We’re committed to uncompromising production quality and we’re still maximizing our investment every time we use these systems. Nothing on the market comes close to the price performance of these NewTek systems.

Dan Fritz is Broadcast Coordinator at Penn Sports Network.

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