PlayOn! Sports. On Monday, officials announced plans to launch the first nationwide network devoted exclusively to high school sports — including a 24-hour television channel, plus products for broadband, mobile and video-on-demand platforms. By combining state athletic associations’ postseason content with the regular season events of member schools, PlayOn! is expected to debut the groundbreaking network initiative this fall.
With television networks dedicated to college athletic conferences and individual universities' sports programs, it was only a matter of time before the idea would trickle down to the high school level. That time is now, according to Atlanta-based media company |
The PlayOn High School Sports Network will provide comprehensive coverage of all boys' and girls' varsity sports, giving wide exposure to many of the 7.6 million high school students who participate in high school athletics. According to the company, the network will feature:
• More than 15,000 hours a year of live event coverage of regular season, postseason and championship events, including marquee match-ups, across all sports.
• Original and exclusive programming to complement event coverage, including original series, studio shows, news, documentaries and highlights.
• A linear television channel with a full 24-hour schedule and minimal repeats.
• A substantial library of assets for video-on-demand, broadband and mobile products.
• Access to a wide variety of sports and year-round programming including football, basketball, baseball, competitive cheer, cross country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming/diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting and wrestling.
"PlayOn has spent the past five years cultivating a product that has generated unprecedented access to millions of passionate high school sports fans across the country," says David Rudolph, chief executive officer of PlayOn! "Expanding to a nationwide network is a natural transition. High school sports is a rapidly emerging market and this network will provide an incredible opportunity for distributors and advertisers who want to reach this coveted audience at the national, regional and local level.”
Rudolph, who spoke with USA Today's sports television columnist Michael Hiestand, says wrestling currently is the company's biggest online draw for high school sports, sometimes attracting more than 200,000 viewers for multiple-day events."It has a rabid fan base that's underserved," Rudolph told Hiestand.
Nevertheless, Hiestand posed the reasonable question: "Do viewers really want to watch a steady stream of high school sports involving faraway schools they might not have heard of?"
"Ten years ago, if you told me I'd sit down to watch a Boise State game, I'd have said I wasn't sure that was an actual college," Rudolph responded. "Now, I know they have a blue field. High school games will go the same way."
Currently, PlayOn! annually produces more than 5,000 events, crowns 1,000 champions and generates more than 15,000 hours of live and on-demand event coverage from 21 states across the country. In addition, schools participating in the School Broadcast Program annually produce more than 15,000 regular-season sporting and school-related events such as news programs, meetings and graduations. Over the next year, PlayOn! anticipates expanding into more than 30 states.