Elizabethtown College Athletics has agreed to a three-year deal with Stretch Internet that will allow the Blue Jays to stream live, high-definition videos and stats to fans through the 2016-2017 academic year. Stretch Internet is based in Arizona and, according to their website, “has become the industry leader in providing dedicated streaming solutions to college and university athletic departments and collegiate conferences.” The deal between the two parties allows Etown to stream an unlimited number of home games on a regular basis in high definition for the first time.
“Video streaming of home athletic events is long overdue at Elizabethtown,” Director of Athletic Communications Matthew Heffelfinger said. “Not all of our student-athletes are local to Lancaster County and southeast Pennsylvania, so for their family and friends, who may not be able to make every game, to be able to see them play from wherever they are for free is of great benefit. That sentiment holds true for not only student-athletes but our alumni and community members.”
Etown is only responsible for content produced at its home games.
Martin Fevre, a junior defender for the Etown men’s soccer team, weighed in on the impact of live-streaming games on Stretch Internet. Fevre was born and raised in France. “With games now being broadcasted over the Internet live, my parents, family and friends at home in France will be able to watch me play,” Fevre said. “Knowing that my family will be watching me live is another source of motivation for me. Most games in the Landmark Conference are scheduled for Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1 p.m. or 7 p.m. For my family and friends with a six-hour time difference in France, it is an ideal time to watch soccer.”
Alyssa Aichele, a junior field hockey and basketball player from Lancaster, also likes the idea of live-streaming video. “I think that this is a good idea for the school because for me, personally, I love when my friends and family are able to watch my games,” she said. “It definitely isn’t the same as if they were at my games in person, but it’s better than nothing. I would rather they be able to watch my game through live streaming than them just wishing me luck and waiting for my call afterwards to see whether or not my team won.”
As of July 1, Etown joined the Landmark Conference as its ninth full-time member. The conference has looked into launching the Landmark Digital Network. “Each school will produce its own streaming video through its own Stretch Internet-branded video portal. That video will be pushed out to the other schools’ portals as well as a Landmark Conference-branded portal,” Heffelfinger said.
Stretch Internet competed with a few other Internet live streaming companies for the attention of the Landmark Conference before it was chosen by most of the conference’s member schools.
“The Landmark Conference staff and the conference’s sports information directors listened to proposals from a few different video streaming providers over the last academic year [2013-14]. A majority, if not all, of the conference’s nine SIDs felt that Stretch offered the best product in terms of quality and customer service,” Heffelfinger said. “Each of the nine Landmark schools has been working on finalizing their own deals with Stretch Internet over the summer so that all schools are on board in time for the start of basketball season.”
The Landmark Conference’s guidelines state that all men’s and women’s basketball home games for the 2014-2015 season must be streamed live. Aside from basketball, a school can stream any additional home games at their own discretion.
“Not all institutions within the conference were required to purchase the same packages from Stretch,” Heffelfinger said. “I suggested Elizabethtown go with the All-Inclusive Package [with an unlimited number of events with video and live stats] and upgrade to high-definition broadcasts.”
All games will be offered to viewers on Stretch Internet free of charge. Most games that Etown will broadcast via Stretch Internet will be available for on-demand viewing in high definition soon after the conclusion of the game. Even if an athletic event is not being streamed with live video, the majority of games will provide live stats through Stretch Internet. The video and stats can be viewed by fans on their desktop, tablets or smart phones.
“The ability to get this project off the ground was really made possible by the Landmark Conference and the Blue Jay Athletic Association,” Heffelfinger said. “The Blue Jay Athletic Association provided the funds to purchase all equipment.”
For a schedule of events, and the details of those events, fans should visit portal.stretchinternet.com/etown/.