COLUMBIA — The Missouri Athletics Department is making sure it doesn't fall behind.
On Thursday, it will launch a new online network, called the Mizzou Network, to bring audio and video content about Missouri athletic events to fans.
The Mizzou Network is a re-branding of Mizzou All-Access, a feature already available to fans on the department's website. Mizzou All-Access offered free on-demand video clips and interviews, as well as live content for subscribers.
Andrew Grinch, Missouri's Associate Athletic Director, said the department didn't put a concentrated effort into Mizzou All-Access, something that will be different with the Mizzou Network.
"There wasn't much activity from a day-to-day standpoint," he said. "Our fans were not used to going to Mizzou All-Access every day."
The department hired three staff members to ensure that it will be able to add content to the network daily. On-demand content will still be free, and live content will cost the same price as it did for Mizzou All-Access: $9.95 for a monthly subscription and $79.95 for a full year.
The network is being funded by private donations and a reallocation of department funds. Grinch said he doesn't anticipate that the network will bring in much new revenue, at least not for a while.
He isn't sure if changes to subscriptions will be necessary because the network will be constantly evolving.
"It's not like a movie premiere," he said. "It's an ongoing process."
Several schools across the country have started similar digital networks. In the Big 12 Conference, those schools include Oklahoma and Kansas State. Several Southeastern Conference schools are on board as well, including Alabama and LSU.
"Looking at peers from other places around the country, we felt we were a little behind from a day-to-day video content standpoint," Grinch said. "Our fans were in a position where I felt they had to go elsewhere to get some of that Mizzou content, and ultimately we want them to come to us."
The Mizzou Network will also feature video of classic games, something that other digital networks, such as Alabama's TideTV, feature as well. Grinch said the department is working with KOMU and checking university archives to see what is available.
"When we launch we'll have four or five historic videos, and we'll eventually look to have four or five a month," Grinch said.
The Mizzou Network will not be on the same level as the University of Texas' Longhorn Network — a 24/7 TV station hosted by ESPN. Many point to the Longhorn Network as a major reason that Missouri and three other schools have left the Big 12 in the past two years.
Grinch describes the Longhorn Network and Mizzou Network as "apples and oranges." But, he said, "you had to take notice of what they were doing."
In addition to increasing its reach online, the department is also increasing its reach in the mobile realm.
On Tuesday, the department introduced the Mizzou Tiger Sports application, a version of the department's website compatible with tablets and mobile devices.
Both the app and the Mizzou Network are being produced with CBS Interactive, the Web host for MUTigers.com and many other collegiate athletic sites.
When videos are posted on the Mizzou Network they will immediately become available on the CBS sports mobile app.
The relationship with CBS also allows content from MUTigers.com to be pushed to outlets such as Yahoo, YouTube and MSN through the CBS Audience Network.
Even though the Mizzou Tiger Sports app and Mizzou Network will both be available on Thursday, Grinch said there is still work to be done.
"The word is getting out there, but it's a little different than promoting a game or, say, a movie," Grinch said. "Part of the promotion will really happen after it launches."
He said people will need to see the network to really understand what it offers.
"It's like explaining TV to someone before TV was invented," he said.