News of this soon to be launched network was announced just over a week ago by PlayOn! Sports (PlayOn) and the National Federation of State High School Associations.
“They are trying to make a national place for high school sports. They want to have a place where anybody in the world can go to see high school sports,” CHS broadcasting instructor Jon Souders stated. “In my opinion, further on down the road they are going to try to market it to ESPN as a conglomerate of high school athletics.”
The all-digital network is slated to be broadcasting online in HD by the start of the 2013-14 athletic seasons.
Currently, PlayOn streams more than 30,000 events per school year, while the NFHS reaches 19,000-plus high schools across the country.
“Teaming up with the NFHS is a natural progression to build a truly national high school sports platform while honoring the local communities that support them,” PlayOn! Sports CEO David Rudolph said in a recent press release. “Our mission is to serve the current and future generations of student-athletes, support and encourage their participation and make their performances accessible to their friends, family and fans on every media platform they use.”
Cleveland High’s Broadcasting Department, CHS Live, has been broadcasting live streaming game feeds through PlayOn’s online portal for the past three years. Last October its viewing numbers made CHS Live the most watched stream in Tennessee, while in February it became the most watched in the nation.
According to Souders, athletic events are the most popular CHS broadcasts, and the Raiders’ football games can draw anywhere from 200 to 400 viewers per game. This year their most watched event was the state wrestling tournament, which had some 800 viewers.
“I think it will give Cleveland a lot of exposure beyond what we are getting now. With the way they are pushing it, I wouldn’t be surprised to see our numbers double in this first year. I think our viewership outside of Tennessee will grow,” Souders commented. “Their goal is to become the largest collection of high school sports in the country. Through PlayOn’s partnership with NFHS, they are able to funnel all of these schools to this one location. So now, if you’re a fan sitting at home and you like high school sports, instead of seeing one game a week on ESPN you can go to this website and see high school sports for days.”
The new NFHS Network not only works to further highlight high school athletic programs, but also gives the CHS broadcasting students the chance to get more experience and exposure themselves.
“Everybody that’s involved can now be seen on a national and even international level. It’s taking the good stuff that we’re already doing here and promoting it out,” Souders said.
Cleveland High School is the only school in Bradley County currently utilizing the PlayOn platform. In Hamilton County, both The McCallie School and East Hamilton High School also broadcast through PlayOn.
“I’m extremely excited for our school, our athletes, and our broadcasting department,” Cleveland Athletic Director Eric Phillips commented. “This is just exciting on a lot of levels — it will give our athletes and broadcasting students more exposure, and open up many doors for them. I think this is something that our kids can really benefit from.”
The first CHS Live event to be broadcast on the NFHS Network will be on Aug. 23, when the Raiders host McCallie in football.