SVSJ commentary: Washington high schools, including Mount Si and Cedarcrest, should look to a Utah high school for pointers on webstreaming for Washington’s high school sports restart

Nothing newswise of note on this Wednesday so we’re going to take some time to head back down to Utah and continue our coverage of that state as it leads the way out here in the western United States as it pertains to fall high school sports.

We of course have been paying attention to how the state is faring with their COVID-19 protocols and whether sports have been affected by those. But, among other things we have been paying attention to down there are what kind of streaming options exist for high school games in that state, something which could be extremely important here in Washington when high school sports restarts, likely in January. There we think is a real good chance that at least initially, many if not all schools may have games with no fans permitted, which is where streaming will come into play.

As many of you know, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, Washington’s high school sports governing body, has what is known as the WIAA Network, which is run through the National Federation of High School Associations’ national webstream network, the NFHS Network. Accessing those games requires a $10 per month subscription, and that gets you a large catalog of contests from around the state in multiple sports.

The WIAA works with several production companies around the state, the chief one of these being ELI Sports, based in Centralia and which handles coverage for a lot of schools in southwest Washington. However, ELI, as was the case with WPAN, the Whatcom County website operator of Washington high school sports websites which was recently sold to a Michigan company, is a small, mom-and-pop style operation which, while they are branching out and doing additional things now, can’t be expected to handle everything statewide, especially if there is an expectation games will be free to watch if no fans are in attendance. So, what should schools in our view look to do to address this? Well, one Utah high school seems to have this down pat.

We take you to Tremonton. They’re the town located at the junction of I-15 and I-84 in the northern part of the state, just south of the Utah-Idaho state line in Box Elder County. Tremonton is home to Bear River High School, and that school has an outstanding webstream service for its sports events called Bear River Live. They stream live via KSL’s live webstream service out of Salt Lake City, but also have an on-demand YouTube page. They handle all home and away games for the school’s varsity teams, including this football game which took place last Friday against area rival Box Elder High School.

We saw these guys for the first time last week, and left extremely impressed with their setup. First off, the stream quality is high-definition, making for a tremendous viewing experience for families and fans watching from home or on their computers or tablets. The graphics package they use, for a high school contest we find this to be outstanding, with clearly visible school logos for both teams and scorebox as well. But most importantly for schools, these guys sold a lot of advertising sponsorships (17 total for this above example football game) and the sponsors were featured prominently in the broadcast, both within the graphics in-game and also during commercial breaks in the action.

A school like Mount Si or Cedarcrest, or any of their Kingco or Wesco Conference rival schools, could establish such a setup and sell sponsorships on a broadcast like this for, let’s say $150-200 a game, and if you sell enough of those, make up for your lost gate revenue through no fans being allowed in, revenue which is used for, among other things, paying game officials. 17 of these if a school locally sold at the rate we used as our example, could net you anywhere between $2500-$3500, which is a good chunk of, if not the full, normal gate revenue for a home game for any school in either of these conferences. Keeping the broadcast free of course.

We have been told that the costs to set this up for BRHS were expensive, but a school such as Mount Si, with their outstanding video and web production classes led by instructor Joe Dockery, could we think put a similar setup together – including student announcers – and not spend the same amount of money Bear River reportedly spent for theirs. We have also been told Cedarcrest could do the same as well. Local sponsors for the games will not be an issue as businesses who normally sponsor school athletic contests at both schools – such entities as Frankie’s Pizza in North Bend for Mount Si or Red Pepper Pizza in Duvall for Cedarcrest – would be the first asked, and in line, to help participate in this as well.

Parents of athletes will also be important in this, too, as the companies they work for could also be given an opportunity to advertise themselves on these broadcasts. It’ll be the technical side of things which will be the more challenging part, but for our Valley schools, or any high school in this state for that matter, this setup Bear River has we believe needs to be the baseline for what things should look like if webcasts are required as part of the restart here in Washington. These streams were of a small-college quality to them, and actually better in quality than some of the Big Sky streams that we’ve seen over the years from Pluto TV.

So have a look at this and tell us what you think. Do you think this is the type of webstream you’d like to see for high school sports here in Washington upon the restart in January? And if you are a Mount Si or Cedarcrest fan, do you think your school can, and should, attempt to pull this off themselves? Email your thoughts to snovalleysports@gmail.com or by posting a comment in our comments section.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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