Rotary Bowl, Fanz-TV look forward to added exposure



Nov. 30, 2008

ST. GEORGE, Utah -

By STEPHEN VINCENT, For The Spectrum & Daily News

One of the biggest developments in Rotary Bowl history began with a simple internet search.

Rod Myers, founder of Fanz-T, wanted to broadcast a Div. II bowl game. That Web search led him to the Rotary Bowl, which this year pits the Colorado School of Mines against Western Washington at noon on Dec. 6.

On Sept. 3, Myers E-mailed Rotary Bowl Director of Marketing Richard Isom. Within a month, they had an agreement to let Fanz-TV televise the game with the crew being provided by Dixie State College's broadcast program. KDXU's Mike McGary will be the play-by-play announcer, and Phil Tuckett, a multiple-Emmy award winner during his career with NFL Films, will do color.

Isom sees the TV deal as fulfilling one of the bowl game's principal purposes - to bring publicity to the St. George area.

"This, in a major way, helps us to fulfill that," Isom said. "As we step up to Division II, it's important that we step up in the way people can view the bowl."

To ensure St. George is shown in the best light possible, the Rotary Bowl invested $45,000 to buy new equipment for the Dixie State's Center for Media Innovation. That money will include two more cameras used at the game than the D-TV crew uses for its DSC football broadcasts.

The investment also allows for the crew to produce interstitials - stories about the teams, the area and the history of the bowl that will run during the broadcast.

One of the big payoffs for the bowl is that the investment goes to the college, not the network.

"That was a key consideration in our selection of a production crew," Isom said. "The college students have an opportunity of a lifetime to work on a national broadcast."

That chance will even extend to DSC alumnus, as Ben Braten, a recent graduate of DSC's communications program, will be the producer.

"He's been responsible for the creative concepts and the commercial spots," Isom said. "He's definitely one of the up-and-coming producers."

The program will also have important implications for Fanz-TV, a network that focuses on giving airtime to lesser-viewed entities, such as minor league professional sports and smaller-division NCAA Sports.

The network, which launched on Jan. 28, was available in 41.4 million U.S. homes as of February - mostly in the Eastern and Southeastern United States as well as Texas and California. Altitude Sports, which covers the Intermountain West, has agreed to broadcast the game, filling a major hole in Fanz-TV's broadcast map.

"It's the biggest event we've ever had," Myers said. "We're hoping to use this as a catalyst to launch the system onto cable networks."

Locally, the broadcast will be shown on KCSG; the broadcast will also be simulcast on KDXU.

Myers said he has been surprised at the number of requests his network has received from the game.

"It's a little more than I thought it would be," said Myers who added the requests have been coming from stations primarily in Washington and Colorado, but he has also fielded requests from stations in California, Oregon and Washington. "I'm very pleased with the number of requests I've gotten."

Isom said out-of-town alumni of both schools are excited to have the chance to see their old school play on television.

Myers expects this year's broadcast to be a stepping stone to a more successful broadcast, from a business standpoint, next year. Because the deal was finalized just eight weeks ago, Fanz-TV faced a difficulty in getting TV stations to broadcast the game as well as sponsors to show commercials - typically, those arrangements are made six months in advance.

Myers said he is also planning on distributing tapes of the game at a broadcasters' convention in Las Vegas, as he will use the game to pitch his network to cable executives.

But, mostly, he wants the arrangement to benefit the Rotary Bowl.

"It's not about Fanz-TV; it's about the Rotary Bowl," Myers said. "It's not a household network yet, but our focus right now is to make sure the game goes off well."