Wildcat Network

By now you know the BTN college football crew of Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith rolled through Camp Kenosha yesterday to put the network’s spotlight on the Northwestern Wildcats. The one hour recap show of their day at UW-Parkside premieres tonight at 10 pm et/9 pm ct on BTN.  This is must see TV for diehard ‘Cats fans as it is one of the few times we actually get to see the players on tape. 

The BTN crew, in my opinion, does a great job of going pretty deep in to the personnel, strengths and weaknesses and getting Wildcat coaches and players to open up, at least a bit. (Here is BTN’s Tom Dienhart’s blog on the ‘Cats). In today’s day and age of instant access social media, you kind of already know what the themes of tonight’s show will be:

  • NU still has question marks in the secondary, but Ibraheim Campbell is on track to be a dynamite player.
  • The RB situation is not a strength for NU.
  • The right side of the OL is a big challenge for us.
  • Kyle Prater hype might be overdone as he hasn’t been practicing and when he has he’s not standing out among our loaded WR corps.
  • There are a bunch of young guys on “D” to keep an eye on like Deonte Gibson and Ifeadi Odenigbo.
  • The LB unit is underrated and likely the heart and soul of our “D”.
  • The speed and talent uptick is the biggest takeaway from the BTN crew.

I’m not trying to minimize the great work Revver and company do, it’s just that if you come here daily then there will be few surprises.  So, with that in mind, it got me wondering just how far away we are from having our very own Northwestern Wildcat network.

Before you say “huh?”, here me out. As a regular in-season viewer of the BTN, I believe I feel like I most fans – I care, at any one time, about 1/12 of the content. I wait throughout the hour to hear a glimpse about Northwestern. Granted, each of the other teams we play this year get covered and are therefore relevant, but despite the fact there is a 24/7 cable net dedicated to our conference, consumer preferences are so specific these days that it isn’t enough.

I’m not talking about an ESPN-owned Texas Longhorn Network model, which is based on building a business around 6 million people (and an ultimate hedge to get good bargaining power within the Big XII Conference).  I’m talking about the BTN becoming a 12 “station” power, with all NU content all the time. Let’s drop the conventional approach to a cable channel though. 

My day job enables me to be trendspotting in what the media room of the future looks like. Two-thirds of every household in America owns a gaming platform (ex – XBox) which also has the full capability of being a video content provider (think: same ability as your cable box, just different input). The adoption of IPad use and watching video online and on your phone are staggering numbers, especially depending upon your generation. The bottom-line is that content will be flowing to fans in a number of different ways through a whole bunch of mediums.  Simply put, the techonology is in place for content to be packaged in a way that it can connect niche audiences.  BTN is no different.

The blueprint for successful start-up networks is already on to new platform pushes like BTN2Go, enabling us to watch content wherever we are (via tablet/mobile devices). However, I don’t want to watch Nebraska-related shows or old Michigan re-runs anytime. I want Northwestern coverage – every day, all day.

Northwestern has beefed up its self coverage (as have many B1G schools) by producing much more video content for NUSports.com. A lacrosse show exists solely online, and that’s my point. Regardless of how small of an audience there is, there is value in connecting and serving that audience. We won’t sidetrack this conversation to far on the economics of content creation, but there is a huge opportunity out there.

I just think about the sheer volume of content that is being created – Twitter feeds from NU Sports, players, coaches. Video produced internally by NU. Video created and archived by BTN. A handful of blogs covering NU on a daily basis. Wouldn’t it be great if we combined forces to create a more centralized approach to getting the fan base consistent, easy-to-digest, Northwestern content? Why shouldn’t we be able to just indulge and watch the 2011 Nebraska game right NOW. Or, step in to the comfort of a 1995 Michigan win to help us recover from a 2012 loss. On a Sunday. At 6am after not sleeping (you laugh, but you know you do this from time to time).  Again, this is wrought with all kind of logistics and editorial issues that need to be addressed. Primarily, the concept of authentic content – analysis and commentary that is unfiltered by the university since you are too smart to not know the difference between an NU-created story and one that is from a fan, or LTP perspective.

If you’re looking for tea leaves of this future world of media convergence, look no further than the marketing trend-setter of the collegiate space – Oregon. They created the Quack Cave ( a nod to man cave or perhaps even better MLB’s mancave, my favorite marketing initiative of the past five years). The Quack Cave is a social media command center, monitoring everything going on with Oregon Athletics across all communication channels. However, it isn’t just Big Brother monitoring, it is also a seat at the table of the ongoing conversation in Twitter, Facebook and a host of other platforms. The lines of journalism have become beyond blurred. Being “first” means little, adding value to the fan’s day means everything.

To me it is clear this is the way the world is going. Hyper customized viewing habits, particuarly in sports. Until then, I’ll DVR the BTN special tonight and take our one hour in the sun.

LTP Bar Network…Last Call

Keep the LTP Bar Network venue updates coming in1 I’ve yet to make the changes to the web page on the LTP Bar Network navigation header at the top of this blog, however many of you have sent in updates (Portland, Virginia, DC, Naperville, San Francisco, NYC etc.).  Please email me at laketheposts@gmail.com with the updated info for where to watch the ‘Cats in your area. I will have the post up within the next week.

LTP Ticket Challenge

Was it something I said? Has the Bruce Springsteen concert on the same day and time of the Vandy game got you shy about pulling the trigger? Let’s get going! We need 103 more NEW season tickets to reach our goal and we’ve got three weeks to do it. Email us with your story of +1-ing your lot, converting your neighbor, colleague or even convincing your company to take the plunge for Wildcat season tickets. Get that Nebraska fan in your office to pay for it and you can use the six non-Nebraska games. Whatever it takes, we want purple in the seats. Who’s got next?!!!

  • Steve Z

    Am I the only one who can’t find the Northwestern Preview on BTN until Friday? I’ve seen it posted as Wednesday in a bunch of spots online, but on my cable guide, 10PM ET tonight is a replay of the Outback Bowl.

    • Ahmed

      Thats what I’m seeing to. I’ll just DVR BTN for 9pm and see what I catch.

    • I don’t see it on my West Coast feed either. I suppose I’ll tune in at 7pm and see what happens…

  • AH

    agree that this is the future and i bet it is not that far away as media becomes more localized and personalized around people’s passions – there is certainly a value in having a centralized place where northwestern content is collected and house as long as it is authentic and interesting, to your point. Rather than having to go to multiple sites, wait for btn to discuss nu – i would love a one stop shop.

    I sat on the btn viewer forum last year and they recognized that it is a struggle to create programming that appeals to all 12 schools – this is a solution.

  • Gary

    Yep, it’s Friday on west coast.

  • Just a head’s up — your cable guide listing is WRONG for the Big Ten Network. The show for Northwestern airs (at least for the first time) tonight/Wednesday at 9 pm CT. Ignore what the guide says for your cable company.

  • briandonaldson

    As a point of comparison, the BBC created multiple channels for the different Olympic sports. From what I remember, there were over 20 channels of dedicated coverage. While not every sport got its own channel, it does show what could happen down the road with more specific content geared towards a much smaller demographic segment.

  • AdamDG

    The future of customized, niche broadcasting is almost certainly via online channels such as YouTube — not cable TV.

  • cece

    Fitz and bratwurst for the panel….hilarious