Campus News

Bowdoin Hockey Hits the Web, Thousands Watch Online

Story posted March 12, 2010

Watson Arena was standing room only as 2,300 spectators took in the NESCAC Championship hockey game between Bowdoin and Middlebury March 7, but thousands more watched from the comfort of wherever they happened to be, by going to UStream, a Web site that streams live video.

A Polar Production
Broadcast Team200.jpg
Chris Adams-Wall '10 (left) and John Colt '10 provide webcast commentary for the Bowdoin-Colby hockey game.

Truly a team effort, the production end of the webcasts is managed by Bowdoin students. They do the camera work, provide the commentary and run the software that encodes the video to UStream — with technical support from Mark Leaman the College webmaster.

"It might seem a challenge, at a school without a communications or broadcasting major, to find students who want to take on such a demanding commitment, but we've managed to create a contagious, creative energy that the kids have been attracted to," says Sports Information Director Jim Caton, who oversees the athletics webcasts.

"The day I received an email from a father of a women's hockey player in the midwest, saying that he just watched his daughter score her first collegiate goal, it made the effort worthwhile."

Recent graduates who also logged time with the athletics webcast production team include D.J. Johnson '07, who is now with NBC/Universal, and Kaitee Daley '09, currently working at ESPN.

More than 9,400 people logged in at some point to watch the action.

"Not everybody sticks around," says Bowdoin Webmaster Mark Leaman.

"You do have those who watch the entire game, but the majority of visitors wait for a score update and then move on."

Leaman says at its peak, there were 1,125 simultaneous viewers.

He adds that if all the viewed segments of video were played end-to-end, it would take 56 days to watch.

Bowdoin has been using UStream for a year, primarily as a broadcast back-up.

"It uses a flash player like YouTube does, so it's easier to view, instead of having to open an additional piece of software like Quicktime," Leaman says, "and it's easier to expand to full-screen."

During the game, online spectators were able to engage in real-time discussions via UStream's chat feature, shown to the right of the streaming video.

Games are archived so that they may be replayed once the broadcast has concluded.

Watch the March 7, 2010, NESCAC Championship game between Bowdoin and Middlebury on UStream.

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