September 24, 2002

Cornell to Charge For Audio on Web

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Cornellians now have a new way to follow the seasons of some of their favorites sports teams. In association with OCSN (the Official College Sports Network) and RealNetworks, the Cornell Athletics website ( will be providing live streaming audio broadcasts of Cornell football games, as well as those of men’s ice hockey, lacrosse, and basketball.

The new service, “College Sports Pass,” charges $6.95 per month and requires the use of RealNetworks’ “RealOne” media player. Other features include on-demand video and audio clips, live stats, and press conference coverage. Additionally, users have access to the live game media from every other member school in the OCSN, which include Ancient Eight rivals Brown, Penn, and Princeton, as well as football and basketball powerhouses such as Oklahoma, Florida, and Duke.

“It used to be that such services were administered by several different providers, depending on the college and the sport. Now, all the webcasts of the OCSN schools are done by RealNetworks in Seattle,” said Lisa Amore, the Director of Consumer Public Relations for RealNetworks. “Now, we can provide higher quality and bitrate assurance than there ever was before.”

In the past, similar sports packages were available from RealNetworks, enabling users to listen to Major League baseball games and NBA contests. This new service is the first of its kind encompassing such a large number of colleges.

“OCSN liked what we were doing with our other sports programs. We had developed a niche in the field of online sports services,” Amore said. “They came to us with a proven audience for college sports. The result of the partnership is the premier internet service for college athletics.”

“We were looking to provide a quality level of service that would be the same for each one of our 135 member schools,” said Jeff Craven, President of OCSN. “RealNetworks has the best technical infrastructure and the quality to match consumer expectation.”

Originally, Cornell athletic broadcasts were available online for free through Eagle Broadcasting, the independent media distributor that owns several local radio stations, including QCountry and Lite97.

“There was a big boom in online services like this,” said Cornell Director of Athletic Communications Laura Stange. “Now, the technology has increased to the point that you have to pay for the best streaming quality. Nobody is offering this for free anymore.”

“If you want a high-quality internet media product, you’re going to have to pay,” Amore said. “But most of the fee goes straight back to the individual athletic departments.”

In Cornell’s case, the money will directly cover the costs of the broadcasts, yielding little or no profit.

“This isn’t a money-making venture for Cornell at all,” Stange said. “This is providing a service. People should be allowed to listen to their sports teams. OCSN had a strong bargaining position [due to the number of colleges under its umbrella] and got us a good and fair [subscription] price.”

The Cornell athletic department sees the College Sports Pass as a benefit, but not necessarily for the students. Associate Director of CU Athletic Alumni Affairs John Webster said of the service, “it’s beneficial to the program and will certainly help alumni stay connected with Cornell athletics.”

“While students could most definitely find a use for it when the teams are on the road, they can just see the home events in person,” Stange said. “This is really designed for alumni, parents, and friends of the university.”

“I think it’s a tremendous way for people to stay connected to the university,” Cravens said. “It’s important for students, it’s important for alumni, and it’s important for Cornell.”

Archived article by Per Ostman