“I was ecstatic to see how well the systems worked…This is great for the sport.”
Stanford University’s athletics department used Digital Rapids StreamZ real-time media encoding servers to provide live streaming video coverage of the NCAA 2006 Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships on the web. The video was accessible during matches through the Stanford Cardinal Official Athletics Website, at www.gostanford.com.
Stanford hosted the first-ever combined men’s and women’s NCAA Tennis Championships from May 18 through May 29, 2006. This event also marked the first time live streaming video has been used to present the NCAA tennis tournament. Individual tennis matches had been streamed in the past from other venues, but never a tournament of this magnitude. More than half of the men’s and women’s singles, doubles, and team matches were streamed live throughout the tournament, with the exception of the Team Finals to which ESPN 2 held exclusive coverage rights.
Stanford had existing cameras at the Taube Tennis Center to record practices for review and analysis, and began considering web distribution of these video feeds as a next step. Members of Stanford’s in-house audio/visual staff were familiar with Digital Rapids, and chose Digital Rapids StreamZ as their encoding platform. Three dual-channel Digital Rapids StreamZ servers were used to encode live 320x240 Windows Media 9 streams from up to six of the twelve tournament courts. The streams included scoreboard overlays driven by Daktronics, who also provide the real-time scoring available on Stanford’s web site.
Online delivery of the streams was provided in conjunction with College Sports Television (CSTV). CSTV is partnered with Akamai Technologies, under which Akamai provides content delivery for CSTV’s network of official athletic sites for colleges and athletic associations.
Dick Gould, the Director of Tennis for Stanford Athletics and one of the most successful men’s tennis Head Coaches in the history of NCAA Division I athletics (including induction into the Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame) was a driving force behind bringing the championships to Stanford, and the initiative to stream the video live. “I was ecstatic to see how well the systems worked,” said Gould. “The players in the tournament were not only from all over the United States, but from all over the world. By streaming the tournament, those interested in following the players – whether their families, friends, earlier coaches or devoted fans – were able to watch the matches from wherever they were, in real time. This is great for the sport.”
The NCAA is a membership-led nonprofit association of colleges and universities committed to supporting academic and athletic opportunities for more than 360,000 student-athletes at more than 1,000 member colleges and universities. Each year, more than 49,000 student-athletes compete in NCAA Championships in Division I, II and III sports. For more information, go to www.ncaa.org.
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