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How Cal Athletics Can Improve Its New Media Presence Part 2

Last time out, we took a ponder at how Cal is managing its New Media presence.  We looked at what it is doing with Twitter and what it is doing with Facebook.  We discussed how Cal could improve with its Twitter and Facebook presence.

Today, we're back again.  We're talking Twitter, we're talking Facebook, but we also wanted to look at streaming video.  More and more people are accessing content via their computers or mobile devices.  The more Cal can provide, well, Cal via computer or mobile device, the more connect fans will feel to their alma mater.  Simply put, Cal has to let their content flow like water via every possible nook and cranny available to a content consumer.  This is especially true for Olympic Sports that do not have broadcasts on network or cable television.  

So, after the jump, we'll take a look at streaming video and have some more thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.  GO BEARS!


Streaming Video

There is another component to this, which is streaming video.  Women's basketball and some other sports offer streaming video.  This can be a great way to promote the sport and get the fans interested.  CalBear81 had some thoughts on this, which are relevant:

CalBear81Make Better Use of On-Line Video Streams

Cal could make much better use of on-line video streams to promote non-revenue sports, at relatively minor cost.  For example, prior to the 2010-11 women’s basketball season, fans could get on-line video streams of all home games.  The video was the same as that shown on Bear Vision at Haas, so the cost for Cal to stream that video would seem to be quite small. But for the 2010-11 season, the University began charging a monthly All-Access fee ($7.95 /month) to watch this video.  In fairness, Cal did hire a play-by-play announcer, who added a lot to the stream.  Nevertheless, the fee undoubtedly discouraged casual fans from tuning in to watch the women play.  Worse, the quality of the stream was far inferior to the prior year, when it was free.  First, no video was provided for many of the home games, for reasons which were never explained, although the audio by the play-by-play was available. Second, for several of the games the audio was of terrible quality, so that it could barely be heard, even with the volume up as high as possible.  Other times the audio would simply stop for extended periods.  This provoked considerable grumbling on the CGB game threads, from the most loyal women’s basketball fans.  It probably discouraged less avid fans completely.

Video was also shown of women’s volleyball games as part of the All-Access package.  Here the problem was a bit different.  There were no crowd mics, so there was dead silence during the match, broken only for a couple a seconds after each point, when the Haas announcer gave the score.  Watching a sporting event in dead silence is a bit disconcerting, and detracts from the experience.  It would not seem that providing a crowd mic to provide a little background noise would cost much, and it would greatly enhance the experience.

Cal could do a lot to promote interest in women’s basketball, volleyball, and other non-revenue sports by providing quality on-line video streams of all the home games.  And they ought to be free.  While the University no doubt gets some revenue from its monthly $7.95 All-Access fees, it seems likely that more revenue would be generated from ticket sales if fan interest in these sports were promoted through free video streams.  Moreover, charging fans a fee, and then providing a poor quality product, with no video and poor sound quality, is going to actively discourage fans from following these sports.

Cal ought to provide free on-line streams of all non-revenue sports to the extent possible.  This should be easy for sports played at Haas, where the video equipment is in place, and the cost of providing the on-line stream should be negligible.  It may be possible at relatively low cost for swimming, tennis, water polo, or other sports and, if so, it should be provided for those sports as well. While this would cost a little revenue from the All-Access fees, free on-line streams are an excellent opportunity for Cal to promote its many outstanding non-revenue sports to fans – and also to recruits – which the University is missing out on.

TwistNHook:  CalBear81 makes some great points.  Giving a little away for free can pay off a lot in the end.  Many people don't much follow most non-revenue sports.  But if they can flick on their laptop or their phone and get video of volleyball or baseball right then and there, it can only help.  Plus, links to the streams and video highlights can be sent out on Twitter/Facebook.  This could be another way to organize all the various New Media platforms and really provide access to Cal sports for its fans!  

A few last thoughts:

1.  Cal Athletics needs to have a better calendar.  The only one I can find is this Cal Scoreboard.  It is moderately hidden and to find out what is going on, you have to click on any individual day.  We put together this Calendar, which allows you to see on a day, week, or monthly view which events exist and are coming up.  It's much easier to see.  There should be no reason for us to have to do this.  Cal should do it.  

2.  YouTube videos.  CalAthletics has a pretty good channel, actually.  Not too much criticism here.  I think that it might be helpful that when they put up a video, send a link to the video down either the Cal Athletics Twitter or the individual team Twitter/Facebook page relevant to that video.  Again, this might seem like overkill, but you have to herd your cats.  Putting up something in one place doesn't mean people will see it.  This is the official Cal Athletics video page.  BLAST IT OUT!

3.  Another way to use Twitter would also be to increase interactions with other Twitter accounts, either for other Cal Athletics programs or similar athletics program for rival schools.  For example, Cal Athletics programs could do twitter hashtag battles with other Athletics program.  What is a Twitter hashtag battle?

So, Cal Volleyball challenges Stanford Volleyball to a Twitter battle.  They decide on standardized hashtags (hashtags are words written on Twitter preceded by the pound symbol).  Let's say, all Cal fans should use #CalVolleyball and all Stanford fans should use #StanfordVolleyball.  Then, a time is set and the battle begins.  So, let's say that from 10 AM to 2 PM on a mutually chosen day, fans of both programs begin to send out as many tweets with #CalVolleyball or #StanfordVolleyball.  Whichever team has the most tweets from their fans with their specific hashtag by 2 PM wins!  And then, maybe the winning team has a prize that it gives out to the fan who tweeted the most.  

This might seem like a moderately stupid idea to some.  But anything that Cal Athletics teams can do to get their fans involved is a big plus in my view.  This is a great way to get fans involved and build spirit for teams.  It's win-win, because the other Athletics program will want their fans to get involved.  Perhaps they could even have All Pac-12 battles where, for example, every Pac-12 baseball team has their fans tweet #CalBaseball, #ArizonaBaseball, etc etc etc.  Just a thought!

4.  They appear to now have a Cal Athletics iPhone App:

It is a little unclear to me what it does, but this looks promising.  Hopefully, there will be one for Droid also.  This again should be coordinated with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the official site.  

Solarise:  1. Twitter is much more interactive than any commenting/blogging.  NegaBears do not survive. It is effective in passing text & links.

2. Facebook is much more curious. Video/photo content seems to thrive more on Facebook compared to texts/links.

3. Management of new media is a team effort. Rovio, maker of Angry Bird, answers every tweet by putting different teams on its Twitter account. CGB has a more haphazard but essentially the same approach.
Cal Athletics needs to figure out how to coordinate all of its official Twitter accounts to support each other's events on the calendar to drive eventual sales conversions.

4. There is no discernible pattern as to how PR is handling the dissemination of information thru new media. Anna Oleson-Wheeler is doing a great job for Cal Softball. As mentioned before, Coach Gottlieb, Coach Kai, Coach Park, Coach Smith, and Jessica Dolan are making Cal Women's basketball young and fun. Outside of them there doesn't seem to be many champions from the Cal Athletics administration who regularly interacts w/ the fans. This is an opportunity to run small experiments to find out what instills passion
 from fans leading to ticketing/merchandising sales. Failing repeatedly on the small scale w/ non-revenue sports quickly can only reveal more insights about Cal fans and what does it take for them to support Cal Athletics.

TwistNHook:  Like I said right now, some Cal sports are doing it right.  Some aren't doing anything.  Cal Athletics needs to organize its entire online presence into a seamless quilt of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and increase personal interest in teams, provide information immediately to now interested fans, and then bask in the glow of the awesomeness that is Cal Athletics!  Tell us your thoughts in the comments!  GO BEARS!