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NDHSAA agrees to deal to broadcast Tier II athletic events on the internet

FARGO -- The North Dakota High School Activities Association announced this week that it is taking a big step in making sure more of its postseason tournaments get broadcast.

Executive Secretary Sherm Sylling said the NDHSAA has signed a five-year, $195,000 contract to join the upstart National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Network.

The new network -- a partnership of the NFHS and PlayOn! Sports broadcasting company -- is an all-digital network devoted to coverage of high school athletics and extracurricular activities through the member associations of the NFHS. The NFHS Network is set to begin broadcasting this fall.

"It is an opportunity to get our events out there," Sylling said. "It is promoting high school activities and we think that is a good thing."

The agreement grants exclusive rights for the NFHS Network to produce and distribute digital broadcasts of NDHSAA's Tier II postseason events, which include state playoff football games, regional basketball games, state wrestling tournaments and state volleyball tournaments.

The NDHSAA's Tier I postseason television broadcasting rights of the Dakota Bowl football championships and the state basketball and hockey championships are not a part of the NFHS Network. Forum Communications Company is entering the first year of a five-year, $680,000 agreement to broadcast NDHSAA's Tier I postseason events.

The NFHS Network will be housed in an online platform where viewers will be able to watch events after purchasing a subscription.

David Rudolph, chief executive officer of PlayOn! Sports, said subscription fees for the NFHS Network haven't been determined.

"It is going to be consistent with what the normal rates are in the current market," Rudolph said. "We are going to do time-based subscriptions rather than event-based subscriptions. With time-based subscriptions you could buy a day, week, month or year-long subscriptions with different prices attached to those."

NFHS chief operating officer Dr. Jim Tenopir said as of Thursday, 28 member associations have signed agreements to join the NFHS Network and six or seven associations are working toward agreements.

All 51 high school associations are shareholders in the NFHS Network.

So which tournaments, games and activities will be broadcasted in North Dakota?

The broadcast schedule will be determined later this fall, but the NFHS Network will notify the NDHSAA on the number of activities and postseason athletic events it intends to broadcast well in advance of the contests being played.

Rudolph also said logistics will play a role in what events the NFHS Network selects for broadcast.

"Most of that is looking at the matchups and where they are as well as where our resources are," Rudolph said.

Any event not chosen for broadcast will be labeled a declined event. Broadcast rights for declined events revert back to the association and can be distributed under their own media rules and policies.

BEK Sports Network, which has televised many of NDHSAA's Tier II athletic events over the last six years, now will be second in line behind the NFHS Network for selection of Tier II broadcasts.

During the 2012-13 school year, BEK Sports paid $26,900 to the NDHSAA in broadcasting rights fees.

"As North Dakota's largest high school sports broadcaster, televising over 200 games a year and over 800 contests in six years, BEK Sports is very disappointed that the NDHSAA did not even consider working with BEK Sports to meet this demand," BEK Sports broadcast operations manager Jordan J. Hassler said in a release.

BEK Sports will continue to broadcast regular-season athletic contests.

Tom Mix

Tom Mix is the North Dakota high school sports reporter. He's worked at The Forum for five years. He was the 2013 North Dakota sportswriter of the year, an award that is sponsored by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to  

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