Some high schools in Indiana are turning to online streaming of their games to help fill the budget hole left by the prospect of playing to empty stadiums.
A report from the Indianapolis Star, notes that high school games are profitable. On average, over a 16-year period from 2004 to 2019, the Center Grove football program averaged a profit of $32,093 per season from gate receipts at varsity home games over total expenses.
But COVID-19 has resulted in severe restrictions on crowd sizes, if fans even feel comfortable coming out at all.
That means a big loss for schools like Center Grove, Decatur Central and Plainfield high schools, which is where streaming comes in.
“We sat down with the athletic department and talked about three goals,” Aaron Holt, volunteer president of the Center Grove Girdiron Club, told the Star. “No. 1 was that we felt responsible to help out the Center Grove athletic department to the best of our ability and do the same for opposing schools hosting us if they chose to participate. No. 2 we wanted to find a way for our fans who normally watch the games to be able to let them see the team. And No. 3, we do the best we can to support our sponsors because without them, we can’t do the games at all.”
Center Grove has since partnered with the IHSAA Champions Network (ihsaatv.org) to provide a pay-per-view model for its fans. Last week’s game had more than 600 individual purchasers at a $9.95 fee. Under the partnership with the IHSAA, the school keeps 50 percent of the profit with the other 50 percent split between the IHSAA and BlueFrame Technology, the IHSAA’s streaming partner.
Heath Shanahan, the director of broadcasting and executive producer for the IHSAA Champions Network, said there is no upfront cost or annual fee to be part of the Champions Network.
“Our thought was, ‘What can we do to help schools recoup some of the lost revenue from the football season,” said Heath Shanahan, director of broadcasting and executive producer for the IHSAA Champions Network. “The football season really powers the rest of the school year and revenue from it this year looks pretty bleak. Everybody is going to take a bath this year. So back in March and April, we thought, ‘What can we do if we don’t have full stands?’ We thought this was a way to help schools at least make some money back.”