Two of the Michigan High School Athletic Association's television partners -- PlayON! Sports (PlayON) and When We Were Young Productions (WWWYP) -- announced Monday (May 10) that they have signed a definitive agreement to merge their companies. The combined company will bring together the deep production and distribution experience of WWWYP, the extensive technology platform of PlayON, and the high school association relationships of each company. The combination of assets creates the premiere high school sports network and the leader in producing, distributing, and monetizing video content in the high school category.
The company will have offices in Atlanta, Georgia, Madison, Wisconsin, and Lansing, Michigan with additional offices planned in Illinois, Missouri, Oregon, and South Carolina. The transaction is expected to close before the end of the year.
PlayON and WWWYP currently partner with seven (7) state high school athletic associations, including Wisconsin (WIAA), Michigan (MHSAA), Georgia (GHSA), South Carolina (SCHSL), Missouri (MSHSAA), Illinois (IHSA), and Oregon (OSAA). The partnership with each state high school association encompasses two primary areas: 1) production, distribution, and monetization of post-season events through television and the Internet; 2) access to PlayON's proprietary technology platform to member schools for self-production of regular season events.
Additional state partnerships will be announced in the near future.
The combined company managed over 2,500 productions of high school events in 2009 and projects to exceed 5,000 events in 2010. It has existing distribution relationships with Comcast, Charter Cable, Time Warner Cable, and Fox Sports Wisconsin, among others.
PlayON President and Chief Executive Officer David Rudolph said, "This is a tremendous expansion opportunity for PlayON and will allow us to continue to aggressively grow our presence in the high school category. Tim Eichorst and When We Were Young Productions have developed an excellent reputation during their seven years of producing high-quality high school sports events and have deep relationships to show for it. Additionally, we are very excited to further extend PlayON's comprehensive technology platform to allow individual high schools to produce and distribute their games."
WWWYP President Tim Eichorst said, "PlayON and When We Were Young Productions complement each other very well. Our companies began working together a year ago and we quickly realized that we had a natural fit in how we approached working in the high school space. Together our position in the market and our ability to deliver on our mission will be even stronger."
To assist the company with its ongoing growth plans, Neal Pilson has agreed to join as a Strategic Advisor, focusing on strategic counsel with special emphasis in areas related to media, distribution, investor relations, partnerships, and growth. Pilson is a senior industry executive, former president of CBS Sports, and is currently president of Pilson Communications Inc. (PCI) where he is active in all areas of sports television, media and marketing.
Pilson said, "High school is the high growth area for the sports and media industry. As the category further develops over the next few years, I am looking forward to working with PlayON and When We Were Young as they continue to expand their leadership position."