Editorial: Exclusive Video Rights & Coverage of HS XC/Track Don't Mix Well

 
 
Dear MileStat.com visitors,
 
We wanted to make you all fully aware of a trend across the country in high school state associations giving exclusive video rights for their state championships in all sports to video producing companies for live streams, on-demand post-event online videos & DVD sales. Virginia is no exception as both the VHSL and VISAA have given video rights to companies in recent years for their all of their state championship events in all sports. In some of our other MileSplit Network state sites, those webmasters and their coverage teams are limited or not allowed to provide any video coverage at their state championship meets by their state associations and exclusive video rights deals with other companies despite working long hours and traveling to many meets in their states throughout the season and doing a lot of the heavy lifting and making life easier for the state associations, meet directors, coaches, and parents in spreading meet information and promoting their events.
 
MileStat.com hasn't been blackballed and forbidden YET to do race videos at the state meets in cross country and track, but we feel its coming close to possibly happening and want to get ahead of it and figure out solutions, compromise or deals with the state associations and these video companies that we can make to allow us to still do the same level of coverage of the sport (including video) as you come to expect on the website from season's beginning to season's end at the state meet every year.
 
I think we can all agree that exclusive media rights to coverage in our sport is not a good idea and only limits the promotion and growth of it. We need all the coverage that we can get and more is better. 90% of the meets that we attend and cover we are the only media person there. The more media coverage that we get, the more it will grow in popularity in our country and attract more talented athletes in the school systems to come out and participate in the sport. MileStat.com may need to call on the Virginia high school cross country and track & field community in the near future to go to bat for us in help and support in allowing open and not restricted video coverage of the state meets by our state high school sports associations. 
 
As a reference before the recent exclusive video rights deals were made, VHSL had a $2 or $3K fee for any company looking to do live video of their events. We always deemed that to be a incredibly high fee that definitely prices out anyone to even break even on making such a substantial upfront investment. The vast majority of the people who want to watch our state championship meets are actually at the meet leaving a small number who would actually be home and interested to pay a fee to watch a live feed. We have certainly never got anywhere close to that amount in subscription revenue on any state meet weekend. We are fine with paying a fee if needed, but as long as its reasonable and affordable as we already spend over $1,000 and closer to $1,500 during most state meet coverage weekends between free-lance photographers/videographers, travel, and hotel arrangements. Typically not getting many new subscribers/insiders at this ending point of the seasons either as we have already likely covered several events if not more than a handful which your team or athletes would have been enticed to purchase a premium account to get full access to our on-site meet coverage at those events. A substantial video rights fee added on would essentially be taking on a major financial loss and would have to look at funding beyond the website's main and existing sources of revenue to pay for our coverage budget.
 
Wouldn't you rather have the people who actually are ingrained and their life is devoted to coverage of this sport year around be allowed to cover the state meet rather than an outside group not connected to the sport who only shows up to give any attention to this sport at the state meet? Or even worse, skip covering the meet altogether for other "higher priority" sports but still won't let anyone else cover it because of their exclusive rights? We feel like we have a pretty good idea of how the sport should be covered with the background of being former athletes and coaches as this website started out of the frustration of the lack or poor coverage by mainstream media entities who viewed our sport as a forgotten stepchild. If you are allowed only one source for media and video coverage, then you are going to be stuck with that coverage even if the coverage in subpar or lacking. Just see often ESPN and NBC coverage of our biggest track & field meets. They spend too much time on the commentators and too little time on the actual races themselves while we are yelling at the TV to show every lap of the 5K instead of the last lap. Those producing the events are often not knowledgeable about the sport and how it should be covered or even bother to listen to the coverage requests of the sport's fans. It is a slippery slope for this kind of exclusive media coverage to extend to the high school level. It could get to the point that they won't even allow parents or spectators bring in their own video cameras and photo cameras to record their children's athletic moments and achievement like the restrictive rules in place at most live music concert venue with major music artists performing as the technology continues to improve for the amateur spectator to get just as good quality video and photos as the profesionals. 
 
We are all ears to ideas from our site visitors and supporters of how we can overcome this trend in our state and find a way for MileStat.com to provide video coverage at all future state championships meets. I think most would agree that it would be shame if we are banned or limited in video coverage at the state championships meets since we are essentially the only ones covering the sport consistently in all the meets leading up to our state championships in Virginia. Our hope is that can be avoided and instead can reach compromises, solutions and deals with our state associations and the contracted video companies that have paid for exclusive video rights. This sport needs all the coverage that it can get and we are among many die-hard fans of the sport that are on a mission to play a role in its continued growth, improvements, and popularization.
 
Sincerely,
Brandon Miles
MileStat.com 
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