UNLV Athletics Hopes UNLV-TV Will Find Funding to Broadcast their Games
For the first time in history, UNLV athletics now has a regular scheduled production crew to stream live footage of games online, but questions remain as to who will fund the program and if it will be able to survive longer than one semester.
“The partnership with UNLV-TV has been terrific for UNLV athletics,” said D. J. Allen, director of communications for UNLV Athletics. “It’s allowed fans, parents and recruits from around the nation to be able to see more Rebels contests than ever before with such sports as volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s basketball.”
UNLV-TV is a television broadcast station that employs students in the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies to produce a variety of shows on campus.
UNLV-TV started the athletics broadcast program in August with the hiring of Kim Alexander as sports production coordinator.
“I was hired on a one year contract, but people are saying they don’t know how we are going to be able to keep funding it, so I don’t know how long I will have this job,” Alexander said. “The budget is the biggest thing in the air right now. It’s a big thorn in our side now.”
The athletics broadcasting program is able to air games that CBS does not want to carry. CBS owns the rights to the Rebel athletic games, so if they decide not to film a game, then it is open for UNLV-TV.
The program broadcasts games live on the UNLV athletics website, http://www.unlvrebels.com/, based on a subscription service, $6.95 per month. But, the money from the subscription service does not go to UNLV-TV. It goes to the athletic department, which leaves UNLV-TV’s athletic department without profit or a budget to pay staff and maintain equipment.
“By the end of this semester, I will be out of money and won’t be able to fund it anymore,” said Laurie Fruth, UNLV-TV’s general manager.
Currently, Lee Bernick, dean of the College of Urban of Affairs, and Fruth are funding the non-profit program from the College’s budget and the journalism department respectively. It costs about $2,000 per game Fruth said.
Fruth declined to comment on what she thought of the program but did say, “Skeptics think that the athletics (program) should be funding it and not us.”
Bernick said the financial situation is tricky because of the university’s non-profit structure.
“We can’t sell commercials because we are a non-profit, but if we can broadcast with a TV station then that station will pay for the satellite truck and can sell ads,” said Bernick. “If there’s money to be made then IMG, the TV station, and we (UNLV-TV) will get it.”
IMG College is a media company that controls college sports on television. UNLV-TV needs permission from them to be able to broadcast a game on television that CBS Sports has not claimed.
Bernick says they are in discussion with a couple of local television stations in hopes to televise the men’s basketball game that will be played at the Orleans Hotel and Casino on Dec. 13. If that does not work they will try to televise the men’s basketball game on Jan. 3 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
If the live television broadcast does not help find financial donors, Bernick is very enthusiastic about the athletics program and says he will work hard to keep it.
“If I can say we do a couple sporting events a week, I can go to the (UNLV) president and tell him it’s a beneficial educational exercise because (students) are learning from it,” Bernick said.
The athletics program hopes that UNLV-TV will find a way to continue to produce their games. Many athletics programs have already grown accustomed to the television broadcast and they have already started to rely on the broadcasts for parents to watch their children’s games and to help with recruiting.
“Our recruits have been able to watch our matches, and that is very beneficial,” said Cindy Fredrick, head coach for UNLV Volleyball. “Many conferences have television networks that carry most of their volleyball matches, so for us to have the UNLV live streaming is important for our program.”
UNLV Women’s Head Soccer Coach Michael Coll agreed. “It is the wave of the future,” Coll said. “It can help tremendously with putting our product and brand in front of more potential students and fans.”
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