The New York Yankees have their own network. So does the SEC and the Big Ten Conference.
Golden Gate High has its own sports network, too.
That’s right, Golden Gate. The Titans have only one camera and a preprogrammed laptop, but the school is one of 54 schools in Florida and, nearly 500 schools nationwide that has started live streaming its sporting events online.
Golden Gate, through its association with Atlanta-based media company PlayOn! Sports, has streamed nearly sporting 40 events already, the latest being the Class 2A-District 12 track and field championships earlier this month.
Anyone across the world with Internet access could have logged on to either Golden Gate’s school website or PlayOn! Sports and watched local athletes vie toward the finish line. Winners were interviewed on camera afterward. Graphics appeared on-screen, listing events and winning marks.
Many fans at Titans Stadium that day cheered the runners from the stands while also watching the happenings on their cellphones. For friends and family members who missed the competition, or for athletes who want to see themselves, they could watch it at a later time on demand on either website.
“We’re just stepping into this,” said Titans athletic director Pete Seitz. “We’re just in the infancy stages. The goal of it is to have people watch our games like they would any other sporting event.”
The first high schools began streaming their sports live online in 2007. Many predicted that by 2010 most schools would be using the simple technology to do the same. That hasn’t happened — yet.
“The true ability to live-stream web video is just a couple years old,” PlayOn! Sports CEO David Rudolph told AthleticBusiness.com last year. “But it’s a viable platform. Within the next 10 years — and that is a legitimate timeline, in my opinion — every single high school sporting event will be produced and distributed in some capacity. It’s an inevitability.”
Though Barron Collier streamed two football games last season, it is Golden Gate which has dedicated thought and resources to the possibilities of live streaming.
The Titans plan on live streaming their varsity football games next season using student talent groomed in assistant track and football coach Larry Capasso’s TV Production class.
Seitz said the school also plans on selling some form of sponsorship or advertising to help support Golden Gate’s athletic programs, as they did for the CCAC and 2A-12 track championships.
“I can’t see why schools wouldn’t do it,” said Capasso, who handled most of the camerawork for the 2A-12 championships.
PlayOn! Sports has agreements with more than 20 state athletic federations to produce postseason games and events, including Florida. Mark Rothberg, the company’s director of school broadcast program, said PlayOn! Sports offers individual schools in those states the ability to stream their own events using the company’s platform.
As with Golden Gate, PlayOn! Sports provides schools with the equipment and technology to produce live events, including a camera, laptop and editing tools, for a fee in the $1,500 range.
A PlayOn! Sports representative taught Capasso how to use a the equipment in a few hours. The first event Golden Gate streamed live was its graduation last June.
Golden Gate principal, Jose Hernandez, said the school hopes to use the opportunity to create a full TV Production curriculum for its students. Golden Gate already broadcasts a weekly news television news program.
“Our goal is a dual purpose,” he said. “First to enhance and enrich the student experience in TV production, giving them real-world purpose for applying what they learn in the classroom.
“The second piece is to expand our fan base. Not everyone can attend home events or special away events. We want our fan base to be able to see our kids perform.”
However, it is the potential new revenue stream created by sell advertising for, say, Friday night football games, that will interest many schools to adopt the technology.
Rothberg said that schools are free to sell advertising spots, sponsorship, and DVDs of a game or event and keep 100 percent of the proceeds. Schools, which can track how many views or visits a game attracts, are even free to sell subscription services to interested parties.
One school, New London-Spicer High School in Minnesota, earned $9,000 last year through the sale of game DVDs alone.
“As it becomes more common and easier for these events to be distributed across all devices,” Rudolph said, “streaming will continue to grow and become more relevant and more top-of-mind for more people.”