Penn Athletics upgrades digital presence

Penn Athletics renews contract with NeuLion to enhance its online content

· February 15, 2012, 10:10 pm   ·  Updated February 19, 2012, 10:44 pm

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Julia Ahn | DP

With Penn’s recent contract renewal with NeuLion, athletic director Steve Bilsky hopes Penn’s digital streaming will be the “future” of Quakers broadcasting.


Penn’s ticketing and digital products are joining the 21st century. This week, Penn Athletics and its content provider, NeuLion, announced a multi-year contract extension, which will include a bevy of new services.

According to Tuesday’s official press release, the renewed partnership will include “a new digital, mobile and ticketing experience for this coming year.” The changes will be unveiled for the 2012-13 season.

Since Penn Athletics and NeuLion parterned up in 2003, there has been “significant growth in both … digital and ticketing businesses.”

Additionally, as Penn has steered away from regional television broadcasts like Comcast — especially for men’s basketball — in recent years, athletic director Steve Bilsky has focused his attention on digital streaming with NeuLion and the Penn Sports Network.

As a result of this strategy shift, “subscription revenue has cumulatively grown 260 percent and online ticket sales have experienced annual growth upwards of 40 percent for Penn-related athletic events” in the last three years.

That figure likely includes non Penn Athletic events that Penn sponsors, like the Battle for I-95 and the annual Penn Relays.

Either way, Bilsky’s focus is on the digital-video age. “The future really is streaming,” he said in September. “We are investing heavily in equipment — cameras to infrastructure to lighting and so forth.”

In addition to updating infrastructure, the new contract extension includes several “new digital updates and services,” including mobile apps, high-definition video, ticketing, Penn Relays and a photo store.

“We’re very happy to renew our partnership with NeuLion,” said Alanna Shanahan, Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of Pennsylvania in the press release. “NeuLion is a cutting-edge, innovative technology company that is leading the way for college athletics. We have worked with NeuLion for eight years and have seen tremendous growth in our digital strategy, and we look forward to our future initiatives with them.”

According to the release, NeuLion’s services are utilized by nearly 175 college athletic programs around the country, and can reach fans across the world. It also strives to monetize the content on both the digital and mobile fronts.

Many of the updates are brand new to the current NeuLion suite, which offers live statistics on the Penn Athletics website. The mobile capabilities should especially appeal to Penn students either on-the-go or in the stands.

NeuLion vice president Ed O’Brien was especially excited about expanding its partnership with Penn and the Penn Relays Carnival.

“Continuing to work with the entire staff on enhancing their digital strategy, including the Penn Relays, is something that we are very excited about,” he said.

As Penn Athletics moves into the digital age, NeuLion will continue to be on the front lines of it all.

The renewed partnership gives Bilsky a chance to continue reaching toward his goal of “[reaching] out to the masses. T.V. will become either not an issue and we don’t do it anymore, or only if it’s national … like [NBC Sports],” he said. “It will make T.V. secondary … the future really is going to be our own Penn Sports Network.”

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