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Bally Sports Southwest Grows Its Texas High School Football Coverage As State Playoffs Heat Up

28/11/2022

Bally Sports Southwest Grows Its Texas High School Football Coverage As State Playoffs Heat Up Live coaches interviews fly in from around the state, thanks to solutions and services by The Video Call Center By Brandon Costa

Monday, November 28, 2022 - 3:08 pm

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In Texas, it doesn't get bigger than high school football.

You know this, and, at Bally Sports Southwest, the regional sports network owned by Diamond Sports Group and Sinclair Broadcast Group, the data backs that up. Last year, the most-watched program on its air was a high school football game. This is the network that exclusively carries live coverage of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, the MLB's Texas Rangers, and the NHL's Dallas Stars.

On a typical Friday night during the high school football season, Bally Sports Southwest offers more than six hours of live highlights and interviews from its studios in Irving, TX. (All photos: Bally Sports Southwest)

Texas High School Football may be exciting - and an instant winner with local viewers - but covering it effectively and equitably is a monumental task. The state is home to more than 1,200 high school football programs ranging from 6-man divisions to the very largest programs in the state.

Doing justice to all those conferences, divisions, and programs is nearly impossible, but, with more than 25 years of covering high school football and a blossoming technology partnership with The Video Call Center (VCC), Bally Sports Southwest has built a strong reputation as a go-to destination on Friday nights. Offering more than six hours of live programming each week, it brings the latest from gridirons across the state to the homes of all Texans.

There are schools in El Paso that are in a different time zone, laughs Jason Walsh, VP/executive producer, Bally Sports Southwest. That's a long way away from us. VCC gave us the ability to talk to coaches or players from around the state. It has been very successful and opened our eyes to what could be.

As VCC has grown, he continues, our high school product has grown, and we've used [the company] more and more. Now we're at the point where we use multiple endpoints with them, so that we can rapid-fire one interview after another interview. While one interview's being done, the next one's being set up right behind it. Again, it's about making our high school product look as big as this state. VCC has been a very helpful partner when it comes to that.

What VCC offers is a service that reliably ingests and transmits live video from smartphones, both simplifying and expanding the ability to conduct live interviews with coaches from all over of Texas. It allows Bally Sports Southwest to be in significantly more places without having to send full crews to cover hundreds and hundreds of games.

During the regular season, Bally Sports Southwest offers studio coverage of live highlights from around the state on Football Fridays, which airs from the network's studios in Irving, TX, at 7:00-11:00 p.m. CT. Then, when all the games are in the books, High School Scoreboard Live kicks off at 11:00 p.m. ET.

Football Friday, produced by Bally Sports Southwest's Brian Smith, is a well-oiled machine providing whip-around highlights virtually non-stop for four straight hours. High School Scoreboard Live, produced by Patrick Modrovsky with help from Coordinating Producer Greg Flick, wraps up the night's action with highlights and live interviews with 15-20 winning coaches.

The Eagles are flying high! @NewtonEaglesTx HC Drew Johnston joins the show to talk about the HUGE opportunities that lie ahead! @uiltexas | #TXHSFB pic.twitter.com/Pljvk476zC

BallySportsTXHS (@BallySportsTXHS) November 27, 2022

Since Bally Sports Southwest (then named Fox Sports Southwest) started using The Video Call Center in 2018, the concept of bringing a coach on live with a smartphone video call has grown from a fun occasional bonus to the core lifeblood of the network's coverage.

When we started this, says Walsh, VCC was trying to add a cherry on top of a sundae. As we've sat down and explored our high school product and thought about it, the truth of the matter is that VCC is our high school product. It's the central point of what makes us successful. The technology they have - and how easy it is to integrate into our studio - makes our show dynamic. They have become the central piece in our ability to do high school football and to cover this state equitably.

Says VCC CEO Larry Thaler, As the network has gotten better and more people have moved to [smartphones], the show's getting braver and doing more. When a team wins a game, [the coach] has got to take his players on a 200-mile bus ride back home. Now he can do a live remote on the regional sports network on that bus while the players are behind him in the bus. That happens a lot, actually, and is very cool.

The truth of the matter, he continues, is that our platform has gotten better, too, and our connectivity options are better. The tools that we use to determine the best way to get the coaches on the air have improved, and the whole process has sped up and gotten more reliable. As it has gotten more reliable, it has become a more critical portion of the show.

In Bally Sports Southwest's Irving, TX, control room, the production crew works with The Video Call Center to coordinate calls with high school football coaches from across Texas, bringing them on-air for live interviews.

Bally Sports Southwest combines VCC's Caller Cloud Service with its AirFirst platform, a cloud-controlled management system, for live IP-based remotes. Simply put, VCC sends a coach a link to click on their smartphone and pipes their video feed into the VCC network. For the coach,
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2022/11/28/bally-sports-southwest-grows-it...
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