Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc. (NYSE:HTV) announced today the launch of High School Playbook (highschoolplaybook.com), a first-of-its-kind product to bring high school sports action to all three screens — TV, web and mobile devices — by leveraging Hearst-Argyle Television’s local and national resources.
It is the first high school sports programming venture to combine social networking with music, statistics and robust, high-definition video, provided by a unique combination of sources: professional TV videographers; users from throughout the country; and specially trained student journalists, who will be designated Sideline Reporters, equipped with Canon HV20 high-definition camcorders.
“We’ve created a super-charged broadband platform with a stellar ‘user experience’ to give high school athletes a spotlight,” said Terry Mackin, Hearst-Argyle Television Executive Vice President in charge of digital media. “High School Playbook will become the local-community hub for 10 men’s and women’s sports and promises to be a compelling internet brand that will resonate with athletes and fans. Not only will it deliver stunning video and informative stats; it will also showcase the spirited sense of community surrounding high school sports. And while high school sports are inherently local, we have built this to have national scale. Highschoolplaybook.com sets a new bar for coverage of high school sports, and for all competitors in this space.”
“As a leader in digital imaging technology, Canon is pleased to be the HD video sponsor of High School Playbook because of the significance that digital imaging plays in the progression of visual communication, engagement and entertainment in online social networking,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, senior vice president and general manager, Consumer Imaging Group, Canon U.S.A. “Even more, students using these Canon HD camcorders are learning the art of video storytelling, by capturing moments that are destined to be part of high school sports history, with the latest HD technology, and sharing it with their communities and the world.”
Highschoolplaybook.com includes comprehensive school information, game schedules, statistics, individual athlete profiles, interscholastic comparisons, and “game day” weather reports provided by the Doppler radar technology at Hearst-Argyle’s local TV stations.
Social media elements include MySpace- and facebook-like community tools including personal profile pages, team pages, school pages, cheerleader pages, fitness and nutrition pages, SMS voting and other messaging that enables byplay among rival schools and fans. “Mashable” content allows users to populate other social-networking environments for increased engagement in and distribution of the High School Playbook brand.
Video content encompasses game highlights, exclusive sideline interviews, bloopers, gameday reports, athlete profiles and “battle of the band” performances by competing schools’ marching bands. “Our professionally trained and equipped Sideline Reporters are a dynamic source of video and text content, and will receive valuable experience at the same time,” Mackin noted. “We’ll have more video, from more sources, than any other provider of high school sports content. And we’re empowering fans by giving them a say in the process and enabling them to show their school spirit.”
New research conducted for Hearst-Argyle by SmithGeiger showed a growing demand for high school sports content online, with 59% of respondents expressing interest in a website of this nature, and 74% having recently attended a high school sporting event.
“Our marketing partners and advertisers will benefit from High School Playbook’s built-in demand, from its reach among an attractive demographic and from its geo-targeted content offerings,” Mackin noted.
High School Playbook will become the new on-air and online brand for Hearst-Argyle station coverage of high school athletics, with regular features as part of the sports reports on Hearst-Argyle’s market-leading local TV newscasts. The brand launches initially in seven of Hearst-Argyle’s 26 markets: Orlando; Sacramento; Pittsburgh; Baltimore; Cincinnati; Greenville/Spartanburg, SC; and Greensboro/Winston-Salem, NC.
Three Hearst-Argyle stations — KCRA-TV, Sacramento; WTAE-TV, Pittsburgh; and WBAL-TV, Baltimore — beginning today will provide High School Playbook features within their existing YouTube Channels. Four additional Hearst-Argyle stations — WESH-TV, Orlando; WLWT-TV, Cincinnati; WYFF-TV, Greenville/Spartanburg, SC; and WXII-TV, Greensboro/Winston-Salem, NC — are initiating YouTube pages with High School Playbook content in connection with today’s announcement.
“As leading local TV newscasters, we’ve been reporting high school sports for decades,” Mackin added. “But fans, parents, players and advertisers have hungered for more, especially about their own local schools. Now they have it, with high quality presentation, whether they’re home or at the game reviewing stats from the sidelines.”
Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc. owns 26 television stations, and manages an additional three television and two radio stations, in geographically diverse U.S. markets. The Company’s television stations reach approximately 18% of U.S. TV households, making it one of America’s largest television station groups. Hearst-Argyle owns 12 ABC-affiliated stations, and manages an additional ABC station owned by Hearst Corporation, and is the largest ABC affiliate group. The Company also owns 10 NBC affiliates, and is the second- largest NBC affiliate owner, and owns two CBS affiliates. The Company is a leader in the convergence of local broadcast television and the Internet through its partnership with Internet Broadcasting, and in the application of digital broadcast spectrum for new local informational services through its Weather Plus partnership with NBC and various NBC affiliate groups. Hearst- Argyle owns more than 30 websites and multicasts 16 digital weather channels. Hearst-Argyle Series A Common Stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “HTV.”