At Ryerson University, it couldn’t be easier to root for the home team.
The ultra-accessible Ryerson Rams’ live broadcasts are quickly expanding to become one of the leading student-produced broadcasts in Canada.
Not only have the number of viewers increased, but the first broadcast of the new school year had the most online viewers for a Rams game to date.
An average of 1,820 people tuned into ryersonrams.ca Aug. 25 to stream the men’s basketball game against the Wisconsin Badgers. There were also over 2,300 people watching in the stands.
“The quality of this professional level work that the students are providing is so good that it is making parents, athletes and students pay attention,” said Ryerson University’s director of athletics Ivan Joseph.
The number of online viewers per game has increased for each sport from 2012 to 2013. Men’s hockey and basketball games have risen to 220 average viewers from 170.
Men’s and women’s volleyball games have risen to 110 average viewers from 80. Similarly, women’s hockey and basketball games have risen to 80 average viewers from 65.
According to sports information co-ordinator Jim McLarty, the man who spearheaded the broadcasts, the plan is to have an even larger online audience this year.
McLarty believes one of the reasons for the increased number of viewers is the Rams’ new facility, the Mattamy Athletic Centre, in the former Maple Leaf Gardens.
The popularity of live streaming has also had an impact. “Three years ago, most of the other universities were ahead of us because they were doing live broadcasts and we weren’t,” said McLarty. “Now I believe we have one of the better student- produced broadcasts.”
This year, live games will be playing around the MAC on about 20 flatscreen TVs. The eventual goal is to have TVs playing the games around the entire university campus.
Four new student positions have also been added to the broadcast team. This number will increase once Ryerson’s school of sport media gets involved.
The new program, a BA in sport media, will take its first students in September 2014. It will give students a chance to broadcast the games on the same network being used now.
“The broadcasts gives students a hands-on, applied learning experience that makes their educational experience that much better,” Joseph said. “This is helping them get jobs in the field when entering the competitive workforce.”
Rino Mattucci is a fourth-year radio and television arts student who did play-by-play for the first Rams broadcast with commentary in January 2012. He sees the program expanding to become similar to a live sports event on TV with replays and more camera angles.
“I’m pretty sad to be leaving this year because it’s so exciting to see where the program is going from here,” said Mattucci. “Doing the broadcasts have helped me build a portfolio for my dream job.”
Mattucci says that when he first came to Ryerson he mumbled a lot and had his sights set on behind-the-scenes work in sports television.
“You couldn’t pay me even $100 to do anything on the air,” he said.
After almost three years of doing the broadcasts, Mattucci has developed his on-air skills to the point that he looks forward to doing play-by-play commentary.
The hands-on learning experience has helped him gain confidence in something he never imagined he could do before.
The broadcasts have additionally drawn in more traffic to ryersonrams.ca.
The university athletics site has about 350,000 hits so far in 2013 compared to 270,000 in 2012. This helps with student recruitment and further promotes Ryerson’s athletes.
“We are seeing the results,” said McLarty. “The goal is to have the No. 1 broadcast produced by students in Canada.”
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on September 25, 2013.