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University sports in Western Canada go live online

Live streaming of games on the Internet called a model for the future.

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | OCT 11 2011

University sports in Western Canada now have greater visibility, thanks to the launch of an online network called CanadaWest.TV. Since September, the new network is live streaming over the Internet all volleyball and basketball games, along with selected games in other sports, for all 14 institutions that are members of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association.

“We’ve been working on this concept for about three years,” says Ben Matchett, assistant athletic director at the University of Calgary and a member of the board of directors for Canada West. The first step, he says, was to get each university to provide live webcasts of their games. “That was our first mandate – to get the games out there.” Once that was accomplished, the goal was to consolidate the webcasts in one place, which was done in partnership with a video-streaming company called Stretch Internet. The games are available not just online but also on mobile devices, including iPhones and iPads.

The long-term goal, says Mr. Matchett, is to have every game in every sport webcast. But, for now, the association is focussing on basketball because it is the one sport that every member in the division competes in, and on volleyball because it shares the same venue as basketball. After that, it is left to each university to decide what else they wish to webcast. University of Victoria, for instance, is adding all their soccer games while the University of Lethbridge will live stream their hockey games. The next logical step for the universities is football, because “it’s the flagship, marquee sport,” says Mr. Matchett.

“I really think this is the future. You see all kinds of American schools that are moving to a model like this.”

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