All Quaker sports, all the time

In 2007, the online Penn Sports Network (PSN), operated by Penn Athletics, was launched to offer Quaker fans, foreign and domestic, unparalleled access to all 33 varsity sports at the University, and exclusive live audio and video streaming of Penn athletic events. Now, the network offers live broadcasts in high definition, as well as additional content, such as special pre-recorded shows featuring Penn coaches.

The live-streamed events are available through subscription packages—one month at $9.95; four months at $29.95; and 12 months at $69.95—but the coach shows and other on-demand programs can be viewed online at any time for free.

Dan Fritz, broadcast coordinator at Penn Athletics, says fall sports streamed live on the PSN included football, sprint football, field hockey and volleyball. Basketball and wrestling are being highlighted this winter. Men’s and women’s lacrosse and baseball will be showcased in the spring.

“Pretty much if it’s played in Franklin Field or The Palestra,” the sport will be featured on the PSN, Fritz says.

Charles “Chas” Dorman, associate director of communications at Penn Athletics, says the entire Athletics communications team helps run and staff the network, co-producing the weekly coach shows and interacting with student-athletes. Over the past year, he says, the PSN has increased its coverage of home events at Franklin Field and inside The Palestra.

Dorman hosts the PSN’s latest endeavor, “The Red and Blue Review,” a six-to-seven-minute weekly highlights show that recaps the gamut of goings-on at Penn Athletics, and a one-stop shop where visitors can check all Penn scores.

“We know that there are a lot of people who are fans of specific Penn sports; we want to cultivate those fans into fans of all Penn sports,” he says. “We’re hoping to grow into [doing] interviews with student-athletes and things of that nature, to really get to know the student-athletes that make up these programs.”

Brian Seltzer, a 2007 Penn alum who serves as the PSN play-by-play announcer for football and men’s basketball, has been involved with online athletics at the University since he was an undergrad. During his freshman year, he says, the service that became the PSN consisted primarily of audio content.

Seltzer, who also hosts the “Independence Blue Cross Jerome Allen Show” with Penn’s head men’s basketball coach, and the “Independence Blue Cross Al Bagnoli Show” with the football coach, credits Fritz with transforming the network and improving its reliability, quality and presentation, as well as the development of live-streaming video broadcasts and video on-demand.   

“Without him, I don’t think that this whole thing, from the online standpoint, would be headed anywhere near the positive direction that it has now achieved,” Seltzer says. “He’s really been phenomenal.”

Fritz also spearheaded the effort to transform an open space in the basement of the Dunning Coaches’ Center into a studio with video cameras, a green screen, a backdrop and lighting, where the coach shows and “The Red and Blue Review” are filmed and produced.

“Franklin Field was built in 1895, The Palestra in 1927, so it’s definitely a safe bet that the architects probably didn’t have streaming video on their minds when they were building those places,” Seltzer says. “But the Athletics Department has really made a committed effort to try and figure out the best possible ways to make sure that all the facilities are up to date and capable of handling streaming broadcast.”

For more information about the Penn Sports Network, including how to sign up for the service, visit www.pennathletics.com.

Originally published on March 3, 2011