Local fans of the University of California-Berkeley's football team will be able to see all the action as their Golden Bears take on Washington State University's Cougars in Pullman, Wa. this Saturday, despite the fact that no broadcast station or cable network is televising the game.
That's because the school will be using Sling Media's Slingbox device to stream the scoreboard feed from WSU's Martin Stadium over the Internet back to Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, where Cal fans will be able to watch the game on the scoreboard, free of charge.
Cal officials found out last Monday that the WSU game, which starts at 2 pm PST, wouldn't be televised due to a conflict with another Pacific 10 Conference game between UCLA and Oregon, which starts at 12:30. Cal tried to work out an arrangement with Washington St. and cable operator Comcast to televise the game, says Cal Athletics spokesman John Sudsbury, but Pac-10 contractual rules prevented the game from being shown. A previous contest against Oregon St. also wasn't televised for the same reason, he says.
"It's disappointing to us, when there's a game on the road, and fans can't watch the game," says Sudsbury. "Since Oregon State, we've been trying to work out something to provide the games to fans in some way."
Enter Sling Media, whose co-founder Jason Krikorian is a Cal alum. The San Rafael, Calif.-based company was already a sponsor of Cal football, advertising on the Golden Bear Radio Network, buying in-stadium advertisements and running a demonstration tent outside home games. Several members of Cal's athletics department also have Slingboxes at home. So when Sling Media learned of the situation with the Washington St. game, they suggested the Slingbox as a solution.
Washington St. agree to provide Cal with access to the scoreboard feed, and Cal has placed a Slingbox in the Golden Bear Radio Network's booth at Martin Stadium. The Slingbox will take the video from the in-stadium feed, while the Golden Bear Radio Network will provide a simultaneous audio stream with the game play-by-play. Both the audio and video feeds will travel via the Internet to Memorial Stadium, where they will be presented on the stadium scoreboard and P.A. system. The system was tested successfully on Friday morning, when Cal declared the plan a "go" for Saturday and formally invited fans to the stadium.
In a press release, Cal reminds fans that while the video will be provided by the WSU scoreboard, "'Go Bears' cheers are strongly encouraged despite any contradictory scoreboard messages coming from Pullman."
Sudsbury says there may be some difficulties in synchronizing the audio with the video, but he imagines Cal loyalists won't mind.
"If fans can watch things on-screen, it will be a lot better than sitting in the living room and listening to the radio."