When it hired Imry Halevi in November, Harvard Athletics made a commitment to improved multimedia productions and sent a message to its fans that it was seeking to push the Harvard sports brand nationwide. Halevi, the current Director of Multimedia and Production, aims to use local, regional, and national broadcasters to distribute improved in-house content across the nation.
“I think that Harvard Athletics has great potential [for expansion] with such a great history and tradition in college sports,” Halevi said. “The question is not whether you have a large budget or the best equipment. Rather, it’s whether you put in the time and effort to pull together a first-class production. I think that at Harvard, we have the infrastructure to do that.”
Harvard is the first Ivy League school to create the position now held by Halevi, who was previous the Associate Director of Video Production at Northeastern University. The Maccabim, Israel, native produced the first ever collegiate women’s ice hockey game on the ESPN family of networks in addition to producing some 100 broadcasts last season.
“We feel like Imry is one of the most talented people who has worked in athletics and the video production side of the business,” said Northeastern athletic director Peter Roby. “He was a tremendous asset to us and put us in a leadership position for college athletics at our level with the sophistication, organization, and quality of production he helped us attain. He helped produce quality content everywhere and we are sorry to see him go, but feel fortunate that we had him for the time that he did.”
Halevi said that an expansion in Crimson coverage on national networks could have a major effect on recruiting for the school. Harvard’s lack of athletic scholarships creates one obstacle to its recruiting efforts, and that disadvantage is only amplified by the dearth of national media coverage it receives in comparison to larger schools from major sports conferences.
“I think that, depending on the specific sport and the specific coaches, online video productions can greatly contribute to recruitment,” Halevi said. “Prospective student athletes have a chance to watch Harvard’s teams play before they come…and parents of [these athletes] know that they’ll be able to watch their daughter or son play on campus even if they cannot make it to Boston for every game.”
Currently, Harvard sports are not readily accessible through alternative media forms like tablets and smartphones. Halevi says that he will stress expanding coverage to allow more access for fans on the go in an effort to expand the Crimson’s fan base and build loyalty.
“If people like to watch sports on their iPhones and iPads, we need to make sure that our content is easily available there. If people like on-demand videos on their TVs, we should look into getting into that field,” Halevi said. “The easier we make it for people to find our content, the more likely we’ll be to get new fans for Harvard Athletics and get people to come to games on campus.”
At Northeastern, in addition to overseeing all hiring and training for the video production team, Halevi was the executive producer for all of Northeastern’s broadcasts on ESPN and its family of networks. This included ESPN3—likely the only medium through which many Crimson fans have streamed a game online.
One immediate goal of the new department is to improve Harvard’s streaming technology—Halevi aims to put it “on the same level as the best college streams [in] the country.”
In his first few months, his efforts have largely focused on updating the department’s streaming equipment in an effort to achieve that goal. But as Halevi looks long-term, he hopes to create a media department on par with the nation’s best.
“There are several schools in New England and around the country that do a good job at producing and broadcasting their games online who rely on a variety of different setups from high-end equipment and freelance professional staff to mid-range equipment and all-student staff,” Halevi said. “I think what will be interesting to see is where we end up on that spectrum. There is no doubt that Harvard Athletics has the potential to have one of the best productions in the country. Now all that’s left is to figure out is how we’ll get there.”
—Staff writer David Freed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.