It’s about time. Traditional media has discovered the new media potential of high school sports.
The most recent media outlet to the — pardon the pun — tailgate party is the Fox Television Stations, which has just launched FoxHiLites.com as a platform for sharing video and commentary of high school athletics and athletes. The service/site is available in 23 Fox markets, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and New York.
FoxHiLites is like YouTube for high school sports. FoxHiLites encourages producers, athletes, fans, parents, and coaches to upload video, which may appear on one of the Fox stations. And it’s not just about football, basketball, and baseball: FoxHiLites is looking for contributions in band, softball, boxing and the martial arts, cheerleading and dance, hockey, soccer, skateboarding, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field and cross country, volleyball, wrestling, and other miscellaneous activities.
“Whether they’re interested in sports, the arts, or showing school spirit, FoxHiLites.com offers a robust online platform where they can showcase their videos and talent,” says Ron Stitt, Fox Stations’ vice president of digital media.
FoxHiLites, which appears to be advertising driven and is heavily tied into the local Fox market, is the latest in the “new media-fication” of high school sports. There are at least six other services/sites dedicated to high school athletics, offering photo and video uploading, blogs, chat, and other new media or social networking services.
Hearst-Argyle television has launched HighSchoolPlaybook.com, which is billed as the “ultimate source of high school content.” It combines scalable TV and a broadcast platform with social networking. It’s limited at the moment to mid-sized cities and markets such as Sacramento, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh.
Belo, owner of television stations and newspapers in markets such as Dallas, Seattle, and Phoenix, has “soft launched” HSGameTime.com, which cover high sports in Belo markets. The sites, however, feel like pumped up newspaper sports sections as fans can check stats, review schedules and standings, while posting (as an after thought) photos and videos of their heroes in action.
CBS television recently bought MaxPreps, the granddaddy of all high school sports Web sites. Launched in 2003, one can expect MaxPreps to integrate with local CBS affiliates and the network’s sports news service, Sportsline.