By Caitlin Schudalla
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Following approval by the Norman Public Schools Board of Education Wednesday, the district will partner with Norman-based KREF SportsTalk 1400 to offer livestreaming Internet broadcasts of major athletic events during the 2013-14 school year.
A notable feature of the partnership is NPS receiving 40 percent of the advertising profits by KREF for the Internet broadcasts, and NPS will use these funds to supplement the district’s athletics and physical education programs.
“We are excited by this partnership,” said NPS Athletic Director Frank Thompson, who believes the livestreaming will not impact game attendance and gate proceeds. “Parents and students will still want to attend the games. What this partnership does is provide more opportunity for the greater community and out-of-town alumni and family to take part in our athletic events.”
Board of Education members and Superintendent Joe Siano were particularly excited at the prospect of the new communications feature Wednesday, as they discussed the broader audience range to be reached by the livestreaming.
“This is a fantastic feature for out-of-town family members who want to see their neice/nephew or grandson/granddaughter play their sport,” said Board President Don Shandy. “If possible we’d love to see this extended to performing arts events as well.”
The first athletic event to be livestreamed will be Aug. 30 when the Norman High and Norman North varsity football teams compete in annual Crosstown Clash at the University of Oklahoma. Other events to be broadcast include the entire football season for Norman High School and Norman North High School; each crosstown clash for every male and female sport, including fast pitch softball, volleyball, wrestling, baseball and soccer and at least 15 basketball games for the varsity male and female teams of both schools.
The livestream broadcasts also will be available in high quality from mobile devices.
KREF owner Randy Laffoon said that his station may very well livestream additional games, both home and away, as a result of listener demand and the station’s success in securing sponsorships.
“KREF is proud to broadcast both schools events and enjoy the additional exposure this gives to the student athletes,” Laffoon said, adding livestream broadcasts also may include special features, such as KREF radio or Skype interviews.
With the board’s approval of the livestream partnership, NPS and KREF will move toward building website “channels” to showcase the livestream broadcasts, debuting the individual Tiger and Timberwolf channels before the start of the 2013-14 school year.
“We will link to these channels from the NPS website and the schools’ individual websites,” said Shelly Hickman, NPS’ communications director. “We will also include a link to the channels on the NPS app so patrons can watch the broadcasts on their mobile devices.”
Hickman said the district also hopes to evolve the channels into including livestream broadcasts of districtwide events such as All City, graduations, high-profile speakers at each of the high schools and popular student events such as pep assemblies, Tigerpalooza and SPUD.