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Publish date: Feb 22, 2011

Little East thinks big with mobile video

By Marta Lawrence
NCAA.org

With its new online network, LittleEast.tv, and new mobile stream, LittleEast.mobi, Division III’s Little East Conference is proving that big media is possible even with little-sized budgets.

Little East commissioner Jonathan Harper.

Because the Little East is located in a heavily saturated media market, Commissioner Jonathan Harper knew the chance of traditional television exposure was slim. So, he took matters into his own hands and launched the streaming site in 2008.    

By the 2009-2010 season, 16 of its 19 championships were available free of charge. With the help of a Tier III grant from Division III, the conference announced its mobile platform in February, which Harper said is simply another way to reach their fans in the medium they want.

“Everything is moving toward the mobile device,” said Harper, who watched one of the first mobile-streamed contests from his iPad. “Pretty soon everything we do will be on a mobile device.”

Little East collaborated with its streaming partner, EZStream , to create the mobile platform, which does not require downloading an application. To view the mobile content, users simply log-in to LittleEast.mobi and select their device.

Anecdotal responses to the streams have been positive. “I received a lot of texts and e-mails from friends around the country watching,” Harper said. He admits he was surprised by the high-quality available from his iPad. “It looked like I was watching from my PC.”

So far, four men’s and women’s basketball games have been streamed to the mobile site. This Friday and Saturday, the semifinal and championship rounds of the men’s and women’s conference tournament will be broadcasted on both LittleEast.tv and LittleEast.mobi.

Harper said he plans to make all championships available. If they can get an Internet connection, he said, “We’re going to bring it to you.”

The good news for Little East fans is that all content is free. Although Harper said they may consider partnering with a sponsor in the future,  he added “we’re not going to charge to watch our contests.”

As streaming becomes more ubiquitous and cost-effective, the Little East model could be applied to any Division II or III conference, Harper said. “It doesn’t matter what division you’re in now,” he said, “technology is technology and it only behooves companies to be able to make it cost-effective for all of us to be able to use.”