Media Coverage

by Billy Weaver

The media and the ACC. I knew that would get your attention.

I can't tell you how many times I have heard Pirate fans complain about the huge amount of media coverage given to the ACC right here in eastern North Carolina. You win, you get coverage. It's that's simple right? Not really.

Sports departments at local television stations and newspapers are shrinking all across the country and it's harder than ever to cover sporting events that really matter to the people in your coverage area. Take WITN for example. The sports department last year consisted of  three people and this year we are down to just two. Surprisingly, two man sports departments are very common even in much bigger markets.

ECU sports takes precedence over all others at WITN as it should. East Carolina University is the only Division One program in eastern North Carolina and covering the Pirates effectively leaves little time or energy to cover teams from the ACC. But if you notice, during the week we will
preview ACC games and usually have highlights of each in-state ACC game the following Saturday. How is that possible with such a limited staff? Satellite feeds. Very good satellite feeds provided by the ACC.

Each Wednesday during football season the ACC provides television stations across the country a free one-and-a-half-hour satellite feed. The feed includes football highlights and interviews with players and the head coach of each team in the ACC, all packaged up nice and pretty for the unlimited use of any accredited TV station.

I can simply dial up the satellite and record all the interviews I need for the week without traveling to Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill or Winston-Salem. Talk about a no-brainer! On top of that, some ACC schools have their own satellite uplink systems on campus. Those schools also have their own video department to shoot games on the weekend and edit those games down to send out to TV stations interested in their teams. Once again, free of charge. So, not only do you not have to attend the school's weekly press conference, you don't have to go to the game! And the average viewer doesn't know the difference. The ACC provides the same service during basketball season. This effectively gets the schools atheltic product across the airwaves and into the homes of millions.

Yes, Conference USA has a similar weekly feed system but quite honestly it doesn't hold a candle to the one provided by the ACC and it's only during football season. Television stations in other parts of North Carolina that simply do not have the manpower to cover ACC teams in  their market and send a crew to Greenville usually just go without ECU highlights in their shows. When was the last time you saw a Raleigh or Durham television crew at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium when the Pirates weren't playing Duke or N.C. State?

The bottom line is that ECU needs to take the bull by the horns and make their product available to television stations outside of eastern North Carolina. A satellite uplink on campus would allow the university to send video highlights and post game interviews to TV stations across  the country. Schools like Auburn, South Carolina and Virginia have their own uplinks. ECU should too.

Believe it or not there's a lot of interest in ECU around the southeast but television stations just have a very hard time getting video of the games. This is a video-driven business and without the video most TV stations outside of eastern North Carolina will not bother to put ECU in their sportscasts.

Billy Weaver