Midvale • The feverish popularity of streaming and broadcasted high school sports in the state of Utah could be getting a new look, or even an entirely new network.
In Wednesday morning’s Utah High School Activities Association executive committee meeting, associate director Kevin Dustin addressed committee members regarding the UHSAA’s future broadcasting plans and potential avenues.
Their contract with KJZZ recently expired, leaving the station with exclusive negotiating rights to try to reach an agreement on a contract extension.
"We’re at the end of the exclusive negotiation period with KJZZ," Dustin said.
Whether the UHSAA agrees to partner with KJZZ again to stream and/or broadcast upcoming regular-season or postseason games remains to be seen, but as Dustin explained, another opportunity for the UHSAA and the schools under its umbrella could bring an expansive shift that could result in national exposure.
Dustin said the UHSAA has been approached by the National Federation of State High School Associations regarding the possible launch of a national and local network.
"The goal of this organization now is that every championship in every sport would be on some kind of platform — either live television or digital," Dustin said to the committee. "That is the goal with this national network."
But the deal is not done.
Dustin said the NFHS needs at least 26 states and signatures from those states to move forward with a potential deal regarding a national network. The deadline is June 30. But as Dustin said, the deal would allow the UHSAA to have a shared national network, and if the deal does pass, it would guarantee the association $45,000 in years 1 through 5 and as much as $60,000 if it expanded into a sixth year and beyond.
"We’re allowed to join an outside network as long as the network doesn’t use more than 25 percent of our events," said Rob Cuff, executive director for UHSAA. "We’re trying to find a way to incorporate an outside group and an in-state entity."
Dustin said he’s approached a few of the smaller communities around the state to ask if they’d be willing to share their broadcasts on the national network or on Deseret Digital Media — one of the UHSAA’s key partnerships — or on a proposed site hypothetically called "UHSAATV.org" that could come to fruition should the deal eventually go through. Dustin said he’s received no complaints or heard any voices of concern thus far.
The negotiations with KJZZ are coming down to the wire, and if a deal isn’t struck by the June 13 UHSAA Board of Trustees meeting, Dustin said proposals would have to be written and submitted to vie for potential partnerships with local broadcasting companies.
As part of the new proposed deal by KJZZ, the station would pay $500 to each home team hosting the specific game it plans to broadcast for the upcoming 2013 season, Dustin said.
"This is a huge step," he said. "It’s time for the schools to get a little bit of money out of these regular-season football games."
Jordan High principal Tom Sherwood said he’s been approached by KUTV to broadcast a game for the upcoming season. But outside of a potential re-signing with KJZZ, the question was raised if schools specifically have the opportunity to deal with networks on their own.
"In order for them to broadcast the game, they’d have to pay us the rights or they’d have to have a contract," UHSAA legal counselor Mark Van Wagoner said. "We own all rights to all institutions."
— Chris Kamrani
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