GRANITE COUNTY – If watching your local high school teams play sports is your thing, then Christmas is coming early with the fall season.
The National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) is rolling out its High School Support Program that will give each high school in Montana two Pixellot camera packages, one for its gymnasium and one for an outdoor field such as football/soccer/track or baseball/softball. The NFHS is also rolling out this program nationwide.
The program has limitations for schools that already have one or more cameras from the NFHS.
“We recognize that the next several years will be challenging for our high schools and state associations,” said NFHS Network CEO Mark Koski in an email to MHSA schools Wednesday. “Many are facing budget cuts and reduced resources, and attendance at athletic and other school events may be restricted. From the NFHS Network’s inception seven years ago, we have been driven by the goal to create a platform that showcases evefry high school event across every sport and every level of competition. Consistent with this goal, we want the High School Support Program to demonstrate our continued commitment to help our partner schools manage through the inevitable complications created by COVID-19.”
Granite Athletic Director JB Chandler and Drummond Superintendent have indicated that they may want to participate in the program, which could put all of each teams’ home games on the streaming service. The schools are only required to pay the $2,500 installation fee. Both schools will likely need to get board approval before they can move forward.
“I’m excited to have this because it’s a proactive step in case we can’t have spectators, we have to limit the number of spectators or if a family just doesn’t feel like they can attend physically for whatever reason,” said Barbachano. “It might be because they are out of state or not comfortable being exposed to a large group of people, but they’ll still have that opportunity and option (to watch).”
Granite Athletic Director JB Chandler also expressed anticipation and excitement about the addition of the Pixellot equipment.
“The cameras were an off-season priority because of the COVID-19 situation. With the other (Professional) sports opting to play without fans I wanted to be prepared for that outcome. Furthermore the school retains a portion of the online gate so the cameras will eventually pay for themselves. This will allow Prospector fans across the country to tune in and watch!”
The following video is an example of what the Pixellot cameras are capable of. While the physical camera configuration has changed somewhat, the functionality is accurately represented in this video from 2019.
Should one or both schools participate in the program, the Flint Creek Courier’s Facebook schedule of games would include a link to each school’s channel on the NFHS Network.
The Titans would also have all of their home games broadcast on the network, as long as Drummond makes the necessary internet access available at their football field.
All three programs could have all or a portion of their road games broadcast as well, depending on whether or not the host school is also part of the NFHS Network.
The NFHS Pixellot cameras are automated, equipped with special software that allows them to follow the action for sports like football, volleyball and basketball. Schools can broadcast the games with the sound in the gymnasium or add play-by-play commentary through an audio hookup.
Schools can also schedule games for junior varsity, junior high and elementary games that are played on facilities with the cameras. Other schools have also used the technology to broadcast graduations, concerts and pep rallies.
Viewers can watch their school’s games via the NFHS website for a fee of $10.95 a month or $70 a season. Under this free camera giveaway, the participating schools would not receive their 10% commission on the monthly viewing passes for the first three years, but would receive $20 on each season pass purchased immediately.
Those purchasing a subscription can view any game on the NFHS network, which has nearly 20,000 member schools contributing at present. That number is sure to grow with this new program.