The Michigan High School Athletic Association Network has a redesigned website ready for the start of the 2009-10 school year, which kicks off its schedule of MHSAA Game Night events on Friday (Aug. 28) when Watervliet and Coloma meet for the 100th time in football at Panther Stadium in Watervliet at 7 p.m.
Last year, the MHSAA Network televised over 400 events on the MHSAA.tv website and with its cable television partner, Comcast Cable. This year, the weekly featured Friday regular-season contests will generally be available online Saturday morning; and other coverage will generally debut online late each week.
The MHSAA.tv website will also be the home to video content being created by member schools. A pilot video streaming program is being undertaken involving schools from the Capital Area Activities Conference in mid-Michigan, plus Carsonville-Port Sanilac High School, which will chronicle its first season of eight-player football online.
The schools voluntarily participating in the pilot are being provided at no cost the equipment necessary to create video and stream it to the MHSAA.tv website. When We Were Young Productions, which powers the MHSAA Network, and its technical partner, PlayON! Sports, are providing the equipment and the robust streaming platform.
Schools participating in the pilot will be paid for their participation, and will be allowed to use the equipment and the streaming solution to distribute their regular-season events in any sport they choose, at any level they wish. CAAC schools will have portal pages on the MHSAA.tv website which fans can directly access to see the content created by and for their school. Their only participation requirement is to stream those indoor MHSAA tournament games they host.
Based on this fall's pilot, the MHSAA plans to expand the streaming program to include those schools hosting many of its winter sports tournaments.
"The proliferation of streaming video on the web has schools excited about the possibilities this has to bring recognition to their programs and stay in contact with their alumni, their communities and their fans," said John E. "Jack" Roberts, executive director of the MHSAA. "It also has schools contacting our office to seek guidance about putting their games on the Internet, and that conversation usually ends with the callers asking 'why doesn't the MHSAA just do it?'
"With the vision of When We Were Young Productions and PlayON! Sports, we're pleased that we can provide schools with a safe place where they can stream their athletic events; give students some hands-on experience in a growing field; and provide our schools with revenue for their programs without them having to hold their hand out in the community."
Content created by schools for the MHSAA.tv website will generally become available for viewing online at 11:30 p.m. the day of the contest, or the following day. Most CAAC schools involved recently were trained on the use of the production kits and the streaming solution, and Roberts said those schools will begin to stream games as they become comfortable using the equipment.
Cable viewers on Comcast Channel 900 will be able to watch the weekly featured MHSAA Game Night football contest on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. One girls volleyball contest and one boys soccer match will also air weekly in prime time, with volleyball getting its first airing Thursdays at 8 p.m.; and soccer on Sundays at 6:30 p.m. Two additional football games will be shown on Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sundays will also feature reairings of selected contests. In addition, Comcast will air MHSAA championship action of past years daily at 3 p.m. Visit the MHSAA.tv website and click on TV Schedule to see complete listings.
Comcast will also feature highlights packages of selected contests through its Video On Demand service. To watch, go to the Video On Demand channel, selected Get Local and then MHSAA. You can also visit MHSAA.tv to see a complete schedule of what's available on Comcast Video On Demand.
Roberts said the MHSAA Network is still seeking clearances for its programming with other video distributors in areas not served by Comcast.