All JUCO games can be seen live online
Bill Brownell’s company, Panhandle Sports Broadcasting at http://www.psblive.com, was calling games for local radio stations a few years back.
“Then we discovered the Internet,” Brownell said. “We found it allowed us a local audience and an audience for soldiers in Iraq and grandmothers in Mobile and parents in Lithuania.”
A few cameras later, PSB was on the air with live streaming video.
College scouts were watching junior college games, and high school players were logging in to view games of schools they were interested in attending.
And when PSB streamed the Gulf District baseball tournament last year on the Internet, the NJCAA took notice.
“It started with the FCCAA (Florida Community College Athletic Association). They let me do the Region 8 championships, Santa Fe went out to Colorado last year. The NJCAA saw it and gave me an audition. We did a football game on the sideline and we got their national championships,” Brownell said.
This week, PSB will stream every game of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series on the Internet, filling a void the JUCO Committee has wanted to fill the past few years, but just didn’t have the means.
“We’ve looked at it a couple of times,” Jamie Hamilton, the tournament chairman, said. “Radio had the rights to do it, a couple of others have wanted to do it, but the reality is, it wasn’t financially feasible for anybody to jump into it. We’re all volunteers. We think about it, and once the tournament is over we don’t think about it.”
That’s where the NJCAA came in. After the Florida webcasts last year, the schools recommended the governing body take a look at the company.
“We worked out a situation that hopefully is a win-win for PSBLive and the NJCAA,” said Mary Ellen Leicht, the executive director of the NJCAA. “They kind of got their feet wet with volleyball, not knowing what they were in for and football was great.
“I think we’ve grown since then and we’ll be sitting down this summer to decide the next step in the relationship.”
A tour of the stadium a few weeks ago has Brownell ready to set up and get to work.
“We’re gonna have everything ESPN does,” he said. “Instant replay, slow motion. We’ll have four cameras and a scoreboard (on-screen scoreline).”
Every game will be available online at psblive.com, with links from several sites, including GJSentinel.com/sports/juco, jucogj.org and njcaa.org (go to the NJCAA TV link). Broadcasts of the men’s basketball tournament were popular, and Hamilton thinks baseball will do well.
“They had 9,000 hits in the basketball championships; think what the week could be for us,” he said. “It’s going to be a nice deal. I don’t understand the economics behind it, but it’s not going to cost us anything.”
The biggest advantage will be to the families of the players who can’t make the trip to Grand Junction.
“I think it will enhance our tournament because it’s going to get it to parents who can’t come out here,” Hamilton said. “They’ll know more about (the tournament) and gives them a chance to see the games.”
The added exposure this week will help junior college athletics and Grand Junction, Leicht said.
“If it was at all possible, the tournament, the NJCAA and Grand Junction deserved it,” she said. “Technology allows us to be more visible now and it’s affordable. Five years ago it was not even an option for us. It all kind of happened at once.”
Hamilton was a little surprised to learn how Panhandle staffs each game.
“This is going to be a production,” he said. “I didn’t realize they were going to have people (manning the cameras). That threw me. I was thinking of the static camera you get, with a camera over home plate and you see it with the live stats. That’s the way I’m used to it.”
Panhandle has a broadcast crew calling the games live with four camera positions, like television broadcasts.
Panhandle showed the Gulf District and Southern District tournaments online and Hamilton watched a few games over the weekend and came away impressed.
Brownell’s company, based in northwest Florida, broadcasts games of various sports all year, and said the thank-you notes he gets make him know he’s got the right business model working. Panhandle’s broadcast of the NJCAA football championship game this past fall has been nominated for an award from the College Sports Media Awards in the Best Game or Live Event College 2 (junior/small college) division.
“I’m most excited about the 10, 15 testimonials we get every day from parents, grandparents. We got one that said she had her fifth-grade class watch with her, because she couldn’t attend (the game) and her son hit a home run,” Brownell said.
“The last time somebody told me (a soldier serving overseas was able to watch his brother’s game), I cried.”