With the band playing and cheerleaders smiling, Pitt Studios, the university’s $12 million investment that eventually could bring almost every sport on campus as close as your Watch ESPN app, was introduced Thursday by athletic director Heather Lyke.
The 6,000-square foot broadcast facility, housed off the lobby of Petersen Events Center, will bring myriad opportunities for almost all Pitt student-athletes and coaches. There are possible recruiting enhancements, naming-rights and sponsorship deals, and just the mere act of getting the Pitt brand out where the outside world can see it.
Game telecasts get started this fall with nine events: five volleyball matches featuring Pitt’s No. 8-ranked team and four soccer games. More will come later in the academic year and reach a crescendo with the launch next fall of the ACC Network.
Pitt Studios is the result of a partnership between the university and Harmar-based NEP, an international production company that does business in 24 countries and produces 75 percent of the live athletic and entertainment events in the world, according to CEO Kevin Rabbitt.
Lyke said baseball, softball, soccer, swimming, basketball, volleyball, wrestling and gymnastics at Pitt eventually will be part of programming on the ACC Network, with production rooted at The Pete.
“Being able to broadcast all those other sports on a linear network and online in a very professional manner,” Lyke said, “re-emphasizes the importance of comprehensive excellence. It re-emphasizes the importance of everybody matters.”
To say nothing of offering more-than-anticipated exposure for recruits. (Lyke pointed out Pitt can do everything but put their faces on the scoreboard, an NCAA violation.)
More importantly, Pitt Studios presents a unique academic opportunity for students, many of whom will man the controls, point the cameras and even do play-by-play. It also will facilitate the first broadcast class ever taught at Pitt.
Plus, Pitt has formed an academic partnership with Point Park, whose students will have internship opportunities working on live ACC Network telecasts.
“There is not only a seat for the person doing the job,” Lyke said, “but a seat for the student to learn hands-on.”
Pitt Studios includes three control rooms, five editing suites and a broadcast studio, all not far from the floor at The Pete. Its scope eventually will spread to Fitzgerald Field House and Trees Pool.
Paul Barto, Pitt’s associate athletic director for broadcast and video production, said it will be limited only by “budget, space and imagination.”