We’ve seen national sports networks broadcast top high school football games (or unique ones, like those featuring the California School For The Deaf), but it’s often been more of a programming filler than a comprehensive season-long approach. But Stadium’s now getting into the high school broadcasting game, and they’re doing so in an interesting way, broadcasting 22 games this year in consistent slots (Thursdays and Fridays), launching a daily 30-minute show focused on the high school game, and bringing in former Bleacher Report lead college football video analyst Michael Felder in a role that will include lots of focus on the high school game.
Here’s more from their release:
Stadium, the first 24/7 multi-platform sports network, today announced that it will televise 22 high school football games featuring some of the country’s top teams and players.
This marks Stadium’s first season of televising high school football, as well as one of the largest number of games in a single season a sports network has televised.
…The 11-week schedule will begin on Thursday, August 16th at 9pm ET with a “Thursday Night Lights” matchup between Utah state powerhouses Bingham High School and Orem High School. It will culminate on Friday, October 26th at 7:30pm ET with a “Friday Night Rivals” showdown between Pennsylvania defending 6A state champion Pine-Richland High School as they face North Allegheny High School.
In addition to the “Thursday Night Lights” and “Friday Night Rivals” telecasts, Stadium will also debut a new 30-minute, Monday through Friday show titled EMERGE, beginning on Tuesday, September 4th at 2pm ET. EMERGE will spotlight the best high school talent across the country, delivering in-depth player profiles while featuring interviews with players and coaches throughout high school football.
The schedule (detailed here) has plenty of prominent teams from across the U.S., including top-ranked teams from four different states, 10 teams that won a state championship in 2017, and more than 12 teams that finished in the top 10 of their state rankings. And these games will be available on a wide range of Stadium platforms, including their over-the-air channel, Facebook, Twitter, their mobile and Roku apps, their FuboTV channel, and WatchStadium.com. But the most notable parts here may be the consistent nights (each Thursday and Friday during those 11 weeks) and the daily studio programming. This sheer tonnage of games has been surpassed before elsewhere, but the approach usually hasn’t been as focused or as consistent as this.
For example, in 2013, ESPN’s networks broadcast 26 high school games, but 13 of those came on the last weekend of August (before college football started). And while FS1 also broadcast seven games that year, making at least one game available a week through Nov. 1 that year, lots of those games weren’t exactly in high-profile slots. So Stadium broadcasting games consistently each Thursday and Friday is a shift.
There’s also been very little national studio programming covering high school football, so EMERGE feels like a big step there. And adding a known name like Felder (a UNC football alumnus who’s worked at Bleacher Report, SB Nation, and elsewhere) and saying he’ll be “heavily featured on EMERGE and throughout various Stadium platforms” is interesting too. We’ll see how this all works out for Stadium, but their approach here is one of the more notable moves around national coverage of high school football in a while.