Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Ball's in Your Court: Live Online Sports Videos Not Only Add Value but, for Once, Newspapers Could Be Ahead of the Game

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Ball's in Your Court: Live Online Sports Videos Not Only Add Value but, for Once, Newspapers Could Be Ahead of the Game

Article excerpt

WHILE THEIR LOCAL HIGH schoolers are dribbling down the court, newspaper publishers can be making a fast break (and some fast cash) by live streaming the basketball game on their websites. Not only is streaming sporting events profitable for newspapers, said a former South Dakota publisher who started iNK Barrel Video Networks, but the industry is in a prime position to dominate the live video market. Who better than the local newspaper that already brings in-depth coach and player interviews and statistics to its readers every day.

"Newspapers have been covering local sports forever, and it's kind of our franchise," said Stewart Huntington, founder and chief executive officer of iNK Barrel and a 28-year newspaper veteran who spent 10 years as an editor at the San Francisco Examiner and the past 10 years as publisher of the Black Hills (S.D.) Pioneer. "We've always been the conduit between (the newspaper) and the kids. It's easily accepted by the community that we would be doing this and easily accepted by the advertisers that we would be bringing it to the community."

Some 70 newspapers in nine states have already signed contracts to live stream sporting events with iNK Barrel, Huntington said. Many have taken it a step further, streaming live online election results, hometown parades, and rodeos. Even church services are on the table.

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All a newspaper needs is about $3,000 in equipment (a high-speed laptop, a video camera, and a tripod), someone to film ($25 per game for a freelancer is average), and a high-speed Internet connection at the venue, iNK Barrel gets a 30 percent revenue share and provides the technology and infrastructure at no charge.

Gary Blackburn, publisher of the Princeton (Ind.) Daily Clarion spent $2,200 on equipment and easily found eight sponsors to pay $300 each for the season for home basketball games, even though not everyone understood how it would be possible to put games on the Internet. During the Clarion's live games, Blackburn enters the score while a retired dentist does the play-by-play and plugs advertisers.

"Everyone seems happy with it," said Blackburn, who gets about 200 viewers every game and enjoys hearing stories about the out-of-towner tuning in to see his nephew play for the first time. "(Advertisers) are not getting a lot of click-throughs, but they're seeing (their ad) on the screen."

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Otis Raybon, publisher of the Rome (Ga.) News Tribune, is also a fan of iNK Barrel.

The Tribune streamed some high school basketball games in December and plans to stream football in the fall, possibly selling multiple sponsors for both sports. He even plans to add church services, charging about $100 a month.

"We're not going to get rich ... but I do expect to make money on this," Raybon said. …

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