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by Frank Tetler

The successful live internet streaming of Mount Saint Mary College’s basketball games this season paves the way for broadcast of many other live events to anyone, anywhere, with an Internet connection.

The program will make it possible to broadcast other sports, club, and Student Government events; campus events like the Gala, various conferences, and even the Commencement Ceremony can now be broadcasted.

“This season’s broadcasts were simply a test,” said Anthony Spano, Internet Technology department asset coordinator. “A pilot program so to speak.”

The streaming project began Feb. 1 and the last game streamed on Feb. 28, in that short time the streaming gained quite a bit of attention.

“We have gotten a tremendous amount of feedback,” he said. “All of it positive. For the games we broadcasted, we averaged about 130 viewers per game, and totaled over 1200 for the season.”

John Nicoletti, who graduated from MSMC in 2009, is one such viewer; he watches from his home in Maybrook, and other locations.

“The neat thing is not only can I watch it on my big screen,” said Nicoletti, “but I can get it on my mobile, on my phone, and watch it while I’m getting an oil changed.”

Nicoletti said he was also pleasantly surprised at the professionalism of the broadcasts with their three camera views, live overlays, and professional announcers.

“They knew all the players’ names and stats, both teams,” he said, “just like a pro game.”

The idea for the broadcast had been around for about a year, Spano said, but wasn’t feasible at the time because of a lack of equipment and manpower.

“It wasn’t until the college recently overhauled the Aquinas Hall TV studio that it became possible,” he said, “when it dawned on me that we now had the equipment we would need in the form of the old studio equipment.”

Spano approached Brian McGann, Knight Radio program director, who had already been working toward Knight Radio audio broadcasts of the games.

“When the opportunity came to stream video along with the play-by-play, he was already putting together,” Spano said. “[McGann] jumped at the idea.”

Putting the project together took a lot of background work.  As students always have first priority for equipment, they had to make sure the equipment they needed would be available. Second, they had to make sure they had staff.

“We worked with David Speigel and Jessica Mushel to coordinate workstudy,” said Spano, “[and] we also had a number of student volunteers.”

In the beginning, staff fluctuated from game to game, but by the final broadcast they had three student camera operators, a student running the main control board, a student announcer, and another updating the scoreboard.

“Our intent from the start [was] to have the entire broadcast run by students,” said Spano, “with us there in case something unexpected happened,”

Spano’s work on the program is all volunteer, but he says he’s very excited to do it because of all the opportunities it represents for so many; communications students get real-world experience, commuters or students studying in dorms have the opportunity to watch, the Athletics Department gets broadcast-quality footage for review, and Admissions has another program to show prospective students.

His favorite benefit, he says, is that parents and families of MSMC athletes get to see them play.

“[Those] who might not otherwise make it to Newburgh,” he said, “they can now watch their children from home.”