Student Broadcasters Embrace Responsibility of Streaming Amid Fan Restrictions
March 11, 2021
When the CBA Digital Network (CBADN) broadcasted its first basketball game in January 2017, it was never expected that student broadcasters would one day stream games with no fans in the Varsity Gym.
Fast forward to this winter and add in several pandemic restrictions, the responsibility of the student-run network has grown exponentially.
“Knowing that our audience was most likely the largest we’ve ever had, broadcasting this year has had way more meaning,” Connor Doogan ’23 said. “It was nice knowing that people were watching and that parents, students, and alumni had something to look forward to. We received compliments from both CBA parents and our opponents, so I think that motivated us to keep improving.”
Through the end of the winter season, over 22,000 viewers have tuned in to CBADN broadcasts this school year. That is an increase of nearly 15,000 unique views through the same time last year.
Of course, the necessary student safety restrictions crafted by both the Academy and the NJSIAA have led more people to tune in to CBA’s broadcasts.
The CBADN streamed four select varsity soccer games in the fall, culminating with the sectional tournament championship against St. Rose which drew 1,500 viewers.
Once sports headed indoors, fan restrictions became more important. Initially, no fans were allowed for both varsity ice hockey and varsity basketball. Parents were allowed to watch in-person by the middle of the season, but all other fans were still watching from home.
“Since there wasn’t as much energy in the gym, the idea of the amount of people watching online was definitely something that got our whole broadcast team energized for each game,” said Chris Carrino ’22, who does live play-by-play commentary. “I personally felt more of an obligation to represent our players and give the heightened audience a good example of what the CBADN is really all about.”
The CBADN streamed all eight home varsity hockey games and one JV hockey game at Jersey Shore Arena. Due to ice rink restrictions, only one student broadcaster was permitted to attend, streaming each game via an iPad to simplify the one-man responsibilities. The network was able to produce a regular broadcast with commentary for the Colts’ Gordon Cup Tournament game.
All five varsity basketball home games received full broadcast efforts. Each game included two student commentators, one student cameraman, and one student running the production computer – which manages the scoreboard and cuts highlights. Two JV basketball home games were broadcast with a similar student setup.
When a full student crew is working, games on the CBADN try to mimic professional broadcasts as closely as possible.
“Most students in the club want to do this as a career and look at these games as the ground floor in learning the broadcasting business,” Carrino said. “It’s a system where everyone needs to be on point. We need to have nice shots on the camera, have the right score on the screen, make sure the audio is clear, and also be entertaining and professional on-air. We strive for these things every game and I believe we do that.”
The Academy earned high reviews for varsity basketball broadcasts, with Asbury Park Press reporter Sherlon Christie singling out CBA as the premier example on how to “livestream the right way.”
When student broadcast crews were not available, the automated video cameras in both the Varsity and McKay Gyms were utilized to stream varsity fencing, JV basketball and freshman basketball.
The CBADN earned Mascot Media’s national “most watched network” award for the week of January 31st through February 6th. CBA has ranked in Mascot Media’s viewership top-20 throughout the winter season. Mascot Media manages nearly 250 public and private school broadcasting channels.
“I think we have a team that really cares about delivering for our audience,” said Hugh Straine ’22, who was one of the on-air commentators. “We really care about the people who watch our streams and it is always the priority to give them the best commentary and camerawork we can.”