This past Friday, a tweet popped up from the Mountaineer Sports Network.
It was deemed an “IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT” regarding MSN broadcasts. Links to three apps were followed by a message.
Being the dinosaur I am, I dropped my head, let out a sigh and tweeted that “I’m old enough to remember when I could hit a pre-set button on my radio and listen. #goodtimes.”
What I should have written, though, was #oldtimes.
Because WVU sports content is available more ways than ever these days. One just has to avoid app-a-noia.
Here’s the deal. The announcement made clear that TuneIn has decided to charge money for all WVU/Learfield audio broadcasts. (The given term is “premium access.”)
But the Mountaineer athletic department and partner Learfield also made it clear there are “plenty of options for free-of-charge access.”
Which is something WVU is passionate about providing. I spoke to WVU’s Matt Wells, executive senior associate athletics director for external affairs, about it.
He takes delivering the Mountaineers to fans very seriously.
“Delivering our radio broadcast is very much a priority for us as a department and for Learfield, our multimedia rights partner,” Wells said. “We’ve constantly worked to increase and enhance the number of options our fans have to listen to the broadcast.
“So, we have the traditional means of listening through our 30-plus radio affiliates across the state of West Virginia.
“Also, we’ve tried to be smart about utilizing available technology to make it easier for fans to listen. There’s the free, live stream on our website: WVUSports.com. Fans can log in to the website on game day and access those football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball radio broadcasts.
“In addition, there’s the WVU Gameday app, which, out of 114 Learfield schools, ranks sixth in terms of most monthly users. So, we’re trying to utilize technology, and make our broadcasts available to our fans, regardless of which medium or platform they choose to use.”
But wait, there’s more.
“You also can listen to it in your home or anywhere else where you have an Alexa,” Wells said. “Just call up your favorite MSN affiliate through Alexa. So, whether you are tuned into a traditional radio or listening on your phone or your computer, or through your Alexa, we’ve tried to make it as accessible as possible — whether you’re in the state of West Virginia, another state or anywhere in the world.”
Wells addressed TuneIn’s decision to put the content behind a paywall.
“It’s not just us,” he said. “It’s happening with a lot of schools and properties. We just wanted to communicate with our fans who have listened to the games on TuneIn. Pro sports were behind a [TuneIn] paywall, but college sports for the most part weren’t. TuneIn made a business decision to move the content behind a paywall, so we were communicating with our fans.
“Fans have the option of paying for it or consuming it at no charge through the WVU Gameday app, Alexa, the website or your over-the-air radio affiliate.”
It’s something Wells wants to stress because there was some backlash.
“IMG has done a great job at making WVU harder to find on the radio than any time in the last 30 years,” wrote one follower on Twitter.
Fan Chris Hershman responded with the opposite point of view.
“This hasn’t been my experience, and I live out of state,” he wrote. “I can listen on my phone via the website, my laptop, Alexa, the WVU Gameday app, the WVU Roku Channel on my TVs, etc. There’s almost too many options.”
Dan “Semper Liberi” Murphy agreed.
“I’m with you bro,” Murphy wrote. “In-state, but travel a lot and can’t remember the last time I couldn’t find a game or coaches show. The difference, present day, is the ‘non-traditional radio’ formats available.”
Indeed, us dinosaurs can continue to listen to the Mountaineers. Wherever we roam the earth.
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.