Matthew Sanders: Live streaming allows families, fans around world to watch Utah high school sports

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 29 2011 8:00 a.m. MST

International audience: Viewers sent emails to broadcasters to indicate where they were watching the 2011 Utah high school football championships.

Matt Sanders

Serving his country 8,000 miles from home, Bryce Bishop, a project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan, did his best to support his stepson throughout the football season.

"He would always try to call me and post encouraging stuff on my Facebook wall before each game," said Jordan Preator, a standout receiver for Fremont High School. "It means a lot to me that he's over there, sacrificing for our family."

But, apparently, missing the opportunity to watch his son play in the 5A championship game drove Bishop to a sleepless night. Due to the half-day time difference, Bishop woke around 2 a.m. from the capital province of Kabul where he was working so he could scour the Web for any live updates he could gather on the game against Lone Peak.

He found the game streaming live on ksl.com and deseretnews.com and had the chance of seeing his stepson complete a no-way-he-did-that 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

The sights and sounds of high school sports across Utah are unmistakable: marching bands, hand-wringing parents, gut-wrenching overtimes, sweating coaches, pulsing gyms, game-winning dives, perfect headers, fight songs and jumping student sections.

They all make up the cacophony of the kind of energy, drama and loyalty that draws families and community members to fields and courts to watch Utah’s youth battle.

This fall, as part of an ongoing aim to “catch kids doing great things,” Deseret Connect staff reached out to Utah high schools to deliver high school sports online at Deseretnews.com and KSL.com.

Throughout the fall, the effort delivered more than 60 football games, including playoffs and championships.

It covered 120 volleyball matches from the state volleyball tournament, the Utah state 3A, 4A and 5A soccer championship games and the state 1A baseball championship.

"Live sports coverage creates a tighter connection between the Deseret News and our Utah audience," said Chris Lee, vice president of digital products for deseretnews.com. "We love showing off so many good things happening in our communities."

"From the schools to the viewers, live streaming of high school sports is a win for everyone," said ksl.com general manager Brett Attkinson. "It provides audience and attention to our local sports programs and athletes. It gives students real world broadcast experience, from setting up video and audio equipment to filming the game and even calling the plays students do it all. It's a collaborative effort between media companies and local schools to provide quality local programming. It's an exciting opportunity and we are proud to be a partner in live streaming of high school sports."

Viewers from across Utah and even across the world responded to the recent 3A, 4A and 5A championship football games with 29,022 online views, 7,232 viewing hours, or an average of 46 minutes per viewer.

"Many of our greatest memories growing up are from the times we spent being a part of our high school team, whether we were playing or watching," said Rod Zundel, KSL TV sports anchor who provided play-by-play for the Utah state football championship games. "Live streams delivered by KSL, Deseret News now allow anyone, no matter where they are in the world to still be a part of their team every week.”

Zundel also hosts KSL-TV’s new seasonal on-site broadcast "Game Night Live Friday." A la ESPN College GameDay style, Zundel travels to a different featured school each week of the regular season to highlight a particular game as well as chat about other games going on around the state.

During the online broadcast, viewers were encouraged to send Deseret Connect emails, letting the team know where the games were being watched.