Students Present Case Study from New ESPN Bristol Initiative

Over the past two years, the collaboration between Full Sail and ESPN has resulted in 35 projects on Full Sail’s campus, where students have had the opportunity to work in the ESPN Sports Lab on various productions for the sports network. Last month – for the first time – four Full Sail students, along with Sports Marketing & Media Program Director Josh Mora and ESPN Sports Lab Director of Creative Technology David Saphirstein, made their way to ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, to take part in the first ever ESPN Bristol Initiative.

During a presentation held in the Entertainment Business Auditorium earlier this month, Brandon Blackwell (Show Production), Laura Calcagni (Film), Dan Coury (Sports Marketing & Media), and Reese Downing (Entertainment Business Master’s), shared photos and stories from their five-day trip in October, along with presenting their case study from the challenge that ESPN gave them. The four were selected from a pool of 20 students who had been recommended by Program and Course Directors across all degree programs.

The first three days of the students’ visit to ESPN were packed with tours, meetings, and behind-the-scene experiences. Highlights included taking a campus-wide tour their first day, meeting with ESPN’s Creative and Emerging Technology team on day two, and visiting the College GameDay set on day three.

“They went through a ‘car wash’ of emerging technology, creative technology, and creative services,” says Josh. “They spent time learning about how technology and design contribute to ESPN coverage and learned about all of the different elements that go into producing ESPN’s coverage beyond just the journalism.”

At the end of the third day, ESPN presented the students with their case study challenge, which was intended to help them utilize everything they had learned about the company in the past few days. The challenge: use the next 24 hours to create a plan for launching a new ESPN network dedicated solely to coverage of the Global X Games. They presented their Case Study to a team of ESPN directors and producers in Connecticut, then presented it again during the recent presentation here on campus.

The group envisioned “ESPN X: Extreme. Sports. Everywhere.,” and presented a packed case study with more than a dozen original programming ideas, new technology pitches, innovative fan interaction and social media strategies, advertising and sponsorship opportunities, and more. They heavily emphasized second screen technology, which is the use of a second electronic device (like a smartphone or tablet) that allows the viewer to interact with what they’re watching on television.

“The team at ESPN really enjoyed the students’ presentation,” said David. “They were impressed with the amount of great content they were able to come up with in a 24-hour period.”

ESPN had several questions for the students, including how to present these ideas to a global audience that may or may not speak English, how their plan would be executed financially, and what specific gear or technology they would use. These questions are now being addressed by the other students who attended the ESPN Bristol Initiative presentation, and they’ll present their responses during an upcoming event in the Entertainment Business Auditorium.

“We’re hoping this experience helps pollinate the campus with the experience [the students] gained from visiting ESPN,” says Josh. “It’s always been our goal to not only have the relationship with ESPN work on campus, but extend it back to Bristol as well. We thank our partners and friends from ESPN for their intellectual attention to it.”