UConn is launching its own sports-focused digital streaming network that will provide live and on-demand content, the university announced Tuesday.
UConn+ is set to launch in late November and will stream features, live events, coach shows, highlights and other on-demand content. The streaming service will be sponsorship-driven, according to UConn vice president of communications Tysen Kendig, and the content will be free.
The service will be available on streaming services such as Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, and accessible through the UConn mobile app and UConnHuskies.com.
Matches currently televised will not be affected. The move aims to bring more exposure to other sports.
“We have our contracts for soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, and hockey,” Kendig said, “where those sports are on linear networks, national networks. What that’s really going to do is distribute live productions for all of our other sports directly to audiences in a way they are a little more used to receiving. …
“This will allow people to watch our events and other types of feature-type programs on their cellphones, on their computers, or on traditional over-the-top platforms like Roku, Apple TV. The format will be similar to what people experience when they go to Netflix or Disney Plus or Hulu, content organized by topic, by sport.
Content currently available on the Big East Conference’s digital platform and its affiliation with FloSports will also not be affected.
Other schools that have launched streaming services have ties to conference networks and use that platform for non-live events like coaching shows and presentation videos. UConn has the ability to offer some of both. A five-part miniseries about the 2022 UConn football training camp titled “The Breakdown” is already in the works, as is “The Standard,” a miniseries taking viewers into women’s basketball.
“There will be a lot of new content in non-live events,” Kendig said. “’The Breakdown’, ‘The Standard’, there will be more and more of them, in athletics and outside of athletics. Over a year ago there was a conversation between David Benedict and myself about how best to distribute our content. We launched the idea with our partners. There were a few models there, but we felt we were in a unique position to do that and sprinkle in some live events.
Learfield and Sidearm Sports are UConn’s partners in this venture. There is a supervising producer on the ground at Storrs, Michael Hendel‚ who shot and produced content, and a central production team. No further hiring is planned; what is needed is already in place.
“Learfield and Sidearm Sports have invested heavily in this and view this as a sponsorship opportunity, so we are able to provide this content at no cost to fans,” Kendig said. “As the effort grows over time, there will be an opportunity to invest more in it.”
“Few of the other major universities in the nation competing at the top level of Division I athletics own the rights and have the means to produce and broadcast the majority of their own live sports content,” Kendig said. “While this landscape is constantly changing, we are now better positioned to meet the demands of our audience and have the means to make most of our domestic Olympic sports and related content across all of our 20 programs directly accessible to more people than ever before.”
Earlier this year, South Carolina and LSU announced their own ventures, “Gamecocks+” and “LSU Gold,” and there are more planned or underway across the country.
Some of the non-sports programs planned by UConn include a research magazine, a talk show podcast about UConn’s people and programs, and health promotion spots. An interview series hosted by President Radenka Maric entitled “Worth Repeating” is already in production. Head football coach Jim Mora is expected to be the first guest. UConn’s multimedia team will produce the non-sports content.