March Madness on Demand gets assist from Sports Link

Topics: Emerging Media, Immersive Learning, College of Communication Information and Media

March 15, 2011

College basketball and emerging media will sync this spring as members of Sports Link, an immersive learning program at Ball State University, take a leading role in producing one of the largest sporting events in the country — the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.

As many as 18 students, telecommunications instructor Chris Taylor and graduate assistant Steven Albritton of Carmel will serve as online producers and social analysts for NCAA March Madness on Demand (MMOD), produced by Turner Sports Interactive. The site is www.ncaa.com/mmod. A promo may be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlOM3Z0p4Ok.

Ball State Provost Terry King pointed out that the NCAA project is the second national partnership in the last year for Sports Link. In 2010, the interdisciplinary student organization partnered with Fox College Sports to bring magazine shows and live coverage of Ball State sporting events to nearly 56 million homes in the nation's top 25 television markets.

"Sports Link provides real-life problem solving opportunities where students synthesize and integrate traditional academic information," King said. "It offers students a transformative experience that delivers game-day excitement to audiences across the country. Students run the show. In addition to being on-air talent, they produce, write, record and edit the packages."

For the upcoming tournament, the Emmy-winning Sports Link crew will work exclusively with production teams from Turner Sports and CBS Sports, interacting with digital producers, television announcers, teams and fans. Content may be found at http://www.ncaa.com/cokezerosocialarena, Facebook (NCAA March Madness) and Twitter (@marchmadness).

Ball State Sports Link members will produce content on campus in a remodeled facility designed especially for the project. The students started preparation for the tournament in February as they researched teams, storylines, social media trends and content. They participated in two weeks of rehearsals and development time prior to the launch of MMOD on March 13. The tournament spans 23 days through the NCAA Championship Game on April 4.

In addition to the entire program's involvement, Taylor and Albritton will serve as two of the tournament's online hosts, while senior Alex Kartman of Fort Wayne and junior Ben Wagner of Yorktown will assist as overall and morning-drive time producers. Junior Kyle Binder of Carmel and sophomore Chris Renkel of West Lake, Ohio, will perform the same role as afternoon-drive time producers.

"Turner Sports has selected Ball State University as its school partner for the inaugural launch of the March Madness Social Arena," said Michael Adamson, Turner Sports vice president for sports new products and services. "The commitment of Ball State's Sports Link program to the integration of new media into sports coverage, along with Ball State's approach to immersive learning, made this a natural fit for the innovative nature of the March Madness on Demand companion social experience."

NCAA March Madness on Demand is available across multiple digital platforms, including an iPhone and iPod Touch app, and for the first time, as an iPad app. Among the new features, MMOD will offer improved live viewing with richer quality and larger format streams, a personalizable channel lineup feature, and live stats and social companion views.

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