Editor’s note: This post was written by Eric Gordon, a summer intern at BTN, who is a journalism major at Syracuse University and grew up in Deerfield. Eric is third from left below and is pictured with fellow interns Drew Jenkins, left, and Matt Hillebrand, right, along with Eddie George at Big Ten Football Media Days.
As my summer at the Big Ten Network comes to a close, I look forward to returning to school with a long list of new contacts, a portfolio full of my summer projects and some impressive content to add to my resume. However, this internship provided significantly more than a set of tools to bolster my arsenal of career finding resources. It was a fantastic learning experience touching on many different fields that I can see myself pursuing.
As a rising junior at Syracuse University, my college sports loyalties extend outside the universities of focus at BTN. But I am no stranger to the Big Ten layout. I grew up a fan of Northwestern and attended many football and basketball games. This past spring, in the height of March Madness, I followed my beloved Orange to Atlanta for the final four where I was fortunate enough to meet the president of BTN, Mark Silverman. He encouraged me to apply for the internship and just like that my summer got a lot more interesting.
Upon entering the BTN offices this past May, I had relatively good idea of the purpose of a communications department within a larger company. I knew how to write a press release and how to track a story. But, BTN has been a tremendous source of insight into the business behind the world of college sports and sports broadcasting. As the only nationally distributed sports network dedicated to a specific conference, BTN is pioneering a virtually untapped market with great success. Since the network launch in the summer of 2007 all 12 of the Big Ten schools have seen a rise in revenue as well as recruitment. Within the communications department, network outreach has tapped into college sports blog sites and provided a widely accessible resource for student newspapers and university athletic departments. The network has shattered expectations and has completely recreated the landscape for college sports.
BTN accomplished all of this long before I arrived. But, I got to learn how it did it and was lucky enough to be a part of its efforts for continued expansion, publicity, and legitimacy. There are no college sports to report on over the summer. But, BTN is far from inactive during this offseason. I was immediately put to work on projects to build excitement for the upcoming football season. I familiarized myself with the layout of online and print media in the Big Ten states and updated the network’s contact information. I spoke with reporters at the Big Ten Media day about big stories for the coming season.
The status that BTN has achieved comes with a set of new challenges for the network. With the addition of Rutgers and Maryland to the Big Ten, how does BTN crack the massive media markets in New York City and Baltimore? How does BTN use its mobile outlets BTN2Go and BTDN to most effectively broadcast as many different games as possible? How can BTN continue to gain popularity in hopes of getting the rights to broadcast more marquee matchups? I am just an intern but I was exposed to all of these topics in my summer at BTN.