New sports network tests webcasting possibilities

[Tampa’s Freedom High was one of last night’s games]

Extending its live webcasting experiments, Gannett has launched a new high school sports network, featuring six or more games from across the country beamed on the Mogulus video service. The new Gannett Grid channel is a joint production of the broadcasting division plus newspapers including USA Today, says Poynter Online’s Al Tompkins; he interviewed Kerry Oslund, the broadcasting division’s vice president for new media.

The Grid uses new technologies that make the show cheaper and easier to produce: laptops, aircard connectivity — plus Mogulus, a technology company in which Gannett invested a reported $10 million in July. One of last night’s games, for example, featured Freedom High School in Tampa, Fla., where Gannett owns WTSP-TV.

The fledgling network got a trial run last month, when GCI used it to broadcast live feeds of Hurricane Gustav’s landfall in Louisiana. More recently, USAT used Mogulus to webcast Thursday’s vice presidential debates. My initial impression of the Grid: I had trouble understanding who was playing, because the on-screen graphics are pretty weak.

Part of ‘one Gannett’ plan
The Grid is a proving ground for live webcasting; Oslund portrayed it as part of the “one Gannett” strategy, where worksites produce information and sell advertising in a seamless nationwide network. Grid producers want to know what worked — and what didn’t work, presumably to avoid some of the big problems its had with the game score publishing system this season.

“This is just one of many ‘one Gannett’ prototypes in development,” Oslund told Tompkins. “We will refine it, build an improved version and when we’re ready, we’ll offer a bulletproof product we can distribute more broadly. All the while, we will be checking in with our customers, adding layers of marketing and promotion and growing audiences. We’ll succeed fast or fail fast.”

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26 Responses to “New sports network tests webcasting possibilities”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Makes me wonder if sports fans want to see games or layers of marketing and promotions!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    “Makes me wonder if sports fans want to see games or layers of marketing and promotions!”

    I would bet that if the “layers of marketing and promotions” were the cost of seeing games that they would otherwise not see, most fans would willingly make the trade-off.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    This project is a joke. The toad who’s in charge of this at our station goes out with a laptop computer and plugs a firewire into whatever kid is shooting the game in the stands. Real journalism at work here folks. You can’t tell who’s playing whom unless its labeled as such and you certainly can’t tell who the players are because the cameras are all consumer grade and the kid shooting it isn’t professional. Yet once again this tool gets stroked by corporate when they come to town and see he’s following their directive. Talk about lazy. Can’t we take our own Gannett bought camera and tripod to the game and use a professionally trained photographer so folks can actually “see” what’s going on in the game?

  4. Anonymous Says:

    If there is money to be made televising High School Sports…shouldn’t the Gannett units pay a rights fee to support the teams’ expenses?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Who would watch this?

    If you’re interested in high school sports, it’s for one reason: your kid is playing.

    If your kid is playing, you’re already there.

    So, who? College recruiters? The big untapped grandparent market? Pedophiles?

  6. Anonymous Says:

    All of you are missing the boat here. High school sports is the last untapped sports market, and Gannett is right to pursue it. If Gannett doesn’t ingrain itself into the local scene, ESPN will eventually swallow it all up (or have you not noticed that sports network’s growing push into the scene, armed with millions of dollars from Gatorade and the U.S. Army?). The day when local newspapers and stations are required to pay for the right to film any high school game are coming — just like pro sports. Efforts like this one are keeping the dogs away for now.

    What they’re doing right now with Mogulus is an experiment, and not much more. Yes, some are out there with low-budget cameras and weak connections, but that will change as we learn more about the process. Imagine 50 games in your area broadcast in HD with Gannett branded logos watermarked over each video, broadcast in Gannett templates — without Gannett spending a dollar on a camera or additional manpower. That’s the dream.

    There’s not business model yet, but there is one thing for certain: It’s where advertisers want to be. Don’t fool yourselves into thinking the market is small. It’s not. It’s huge, and the demographics are as juicy as they come.

    Of all the things Gannett is doing, this one actually has some teeth. The criticism here appears to be of the knee-jerk variety.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Last untapped sports market?
    Come on. Could the reason it remains untapped have anything to do with the fact that taxpayers are paying for those football fields and are paying to educate the players, aren’t they?

  8. Anonymous Says:

    “If you’re interested in high school sports, it’s for one reason: your kid is playing.
    If your kid is playing, you’re already there.”

    If your kid is playing and you are there, you (and every kid on the team and their parents and grandparents) probably will watch the VOD version over and over again when back at home. You might even buy and download a copy of the game. You might even watch/listen to the game live on a video enabled cell phone while you’re there (which is not a big stretch).

  9. Anonymous Says:

    1:49: writes “Don’t fool yourselves into thinking the market is small. It’s not. It’s huge, and the demographics are as juicy as they come”

    “Juicy as it comes” do you really talk like that? You sound like an idiot. Let me guess, you must be the photo departments worst still shooter who was put in charge of Mogulus operation because you can’t shoot a photo to save your life.
    The quality of the broadcast is a joke. Another waste of $10 million dollars for GCI.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    I thought the schools had been doing videos of games and selling them as fundraising efforts for years.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    I love my kids and love watching them play sports, but no way am I going to buy a copy of the game. I have my own video camera, thank you very much.

    This is yet another blind alley Gannett is running pell-mell down, and it will go the way of all the other ridiculous, short-lived fads they promote as the salvation of journalism.

    It’s going to fizzle out, after much expense and reallocating of resources that would be better spent in gathering actual NEWS.


  12. Anonymous Says:

    Hey 3:50, you’re pretty quick with the insults — cool off and give us some insight instead.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    What are the schools saying about all this?

  14. Anonymous Says:

    @6:23, why do you need insight?, you people running the Mogulus operation act like you know everything.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    So it’s totally accurate to say Gannett’s plan is:

    1. Broadcast high school football games.
    2. ???
    3. Profit!

    And I thought that plan was just a South Park joke.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    I love that South Park episode! Perhaps the underpants gnomes are at work here too!

  17. Anonymous Says:

    6:39-Exactly, the schools don’t know and are being duped into thinking this is a “great” idea. That’s what the masses don’t get about media. That there’s tons of money in it and Joe Q. taxpayer is fitting the bill for Gannett’s version of what could become just more corporate welfare. The Arizona Republic is already in bed with the athletic association in Arizona. Where’s the credibility? What’s hilarious is the Republic fired one of the high school writers and he was hired back by the AIA to write stuff for F’ing clown shoes.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    In my market, when the local TV station televises a high school game, they have two sideline cameras and two cameras on the roof of the press box, a switcher (to cut between the cameras), a character generator (the thing that puts letters onto the screen) a parabolic mic operator (for good sound); an audio mixer, and one or two commentators. It’s the total package, and worth buying ads on.

    A single camera production with no commentator and text or graphics is the absolute worst way to view a football game. Because the camera is tethered to a laptop, it has to be far away from the action. It’s less interesting than going to the game in person. It’s more interesting if a second person holds the laptop tethered to the camera operator along the sidelines, but considering that the camera is only semipro and the laptop is not ruggedized, it seems awfully risky.

    I love the idea of doing live video; the problem is that many newspapers want to do it at a much lower quality than the TV competition and about the same quality as a motivated joe six-pack could do.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Why aren’t we chasing after the pedophile market?

    There’s a reason our reader-submitted photo galleries are always at the top of the click list. After the families looking to see the ‘wonder’ of their kid online, it’s the one handed typists that are driving the site.

    Seems like a natural market for advertising that other thing you can do one handed, is morally degrading and makes you feel dirty later…. voting!

  20. Anonymous Says:

    And once Gannett starts to profit from this, how long until the schools demand licensing fees or broadcast rights. How long until ppv high school sports?

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Or, how long will it be until parents tell the schools they don’t want someone making profits off their kids’ efforts?

  22. Anonymous Says:

    “Who would watch this?

    If you’re interested in high school sports, it’s for one reason: your kid is playing.

    If your kid is playing, you’re already there.

    So, who? College recruiters? The big untapped grandparent market? Pedophiles?”

    Anon, there are people who are fans of high school TEAMS. High school football has a big following, particularly in rural areas of the country, where “Friday Night Lights” has been engrained in the culture of the area for decades. You may want to rent the movie to get a taste of the madness.

    Another group of people who would be interested in high school sports are fans of college teams. The biggest following is with high school basketball. These fans want to know who the top players are and if their team’s recruiting them, and they want to know who else their team is recruiting.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    With so many ventures, if you do it halfway you create a market for someone who will actually come in and devote more expertise and do it well.

    I fear this is another area where it’s something we kill ourselves to do on top of 6 other things and it ultimately only reveals how much we like our toys.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    I think this is one of the smartest moves GCI has done recently. I have spot checked some of the games on Mogolus and for the most part it is decent. Some games the video was so bad it was unwatchable…but others actually looked good with multiple cameras on the action.
    No, it isn’t ready for prime time just yet, but I do think it will eventually be a money maker.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    “But I do think it will eventually be a money maker”

    Are you serious? I’m Mr. Small Business Owner. I can’t even get a loan to keep the electricity on in my store. But let me dump my last dollars into advertising on this one camera low quality broadcast of high school sports on my local papers website.

    I think you are spiking the Kool Aid with hard liquor.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    I think parents, players and the at-large public will hit the roof if a company tries to make money off of high school sports.

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