The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 16, 2013

WCHA, Minnesota State preparing for NEW-LOOK LEAGUE

Conference seeking league-wide broadcast package


A week ago, McLeod, the presidents — including Minnesota State's Richard Davenport, who was re-elected as chair of the WCHA's Presidents Council — and other school representatives met in Bemidji for two days.

Discussions included future budgets and staffing and promotion of next season's Final Five championship weekend in Grand Rapids, Mich. But the major focus was a league-wide media package that would make all of the teams' games available online. Although a deal is still in the proposal stage, the package, reportedly a service of Fox Sports, would offer free streaming of all games in high-definition over a variety of platforms, including computers, tablets and smartphones.

The Big Ten and NCHC have deals in place to have various games televised on the Big Ten Network and CBS Sports Network, respectively.

"This is extremely important," McLeod said. "It's an indication as a group of how competitive we are. This group, we're going to compete. We're not rolling over in any shape or form. To do that we need to have a media presence both regionally and nationally, and this is our opportunity."

While the package could provide the league and its members with some revenue streams, including commercial time, it's not necessarily going to be a big money maker.

"We're looking at is more as an investment," Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman said. "I think it will create familiarity and interest for all levels — fans, boosters and alumni — and, equally, exposure to student-athletes and recruits. We need to guide them to a viable platform where they can catch games live or on demand."

Minnesota State already produces its own home games for broadcast on Charter cable, using a crew from Bethany Lutheran College, and presumably those broadcasts would be used in the new format.

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