Belo Interactive, the internet component of massive media conglomerate Belo Corp., got into the high school sports game this week with the launch of HSGameTime. By leveraging its television and newspaper properties, the site offers editorial commentary for high school sporting events and re-purposed local news coverage in addition to a social network, blogs, forums, and user photo and video uploads.

 

 

Offering audiovisual relief to those alums experiencing pangs of nostalgia for their high school glory days and giving current students a space where local athletes can become stars is an industry that’s picking up speed.

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Last week Hearst-Argyle launched the similarly themed High School Playbook, again offering a type of MySpace-inspired social network with sports coverage produced by the company’s local affiliates.

High school students make up an extremely attractive demo for advertisers that, before now, was difficult to specifically target. “There isn’t an advertiser that doesn’t see the high school market as strategic,” said Terry Mackin, Executive VP of Digital Media for Hearst-Argyle. “I haven’t had this kind of reception in the ad community since I sold Seinfeld at Columbia Pictures.”

But which site’s going to win Homecoming and take home more of those advertising dollars? The one with the best content and best user-experience.

As much as I’d like to know how bad the Rincon Rangers’ football team will be this year, if my only insight is from HS GameTime’s repurposed news clips streaming on a shoddy player, I won’t bother. There’s a need for access to archival footage from local news networks, but if there’s a better alternative for up-to-date sports info, that’s what viewers will watch.

I’d much rather look at High School Playbook’s slick, easily navigable interface and exclusive footage from “specially-trained student sideline reporters” shooting on high-def cameras, even if they don’t report on my alma mater.

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