By John Johnson
MHSAA Communications Director
A challenge to schools wanting to stream live video of their athletic events to their communities is being able to adequately staff those productions.
“We had signed up for the School Broadcast Program over a year ago and we were really excited to get our games out to the community, and when it came to it, we just couldn’t get the manpower to run the equipment,” said Drew Johnson, the athletic director at Otisville-LakeVille High School in Genesee County. “That first day, we had everything lined up, we were ready to go, and two of our three kids missed school that day for being sick. It was just a hassle.
“So when we heard about Pixellot, it was a quick and easy decision.”
Just three weeks ago, LakeVille became the first school in Michigan and one of the first in the country to install a Pixellot unit in its gymnasium, automating the process of streaming live video on MHSAA.tv and the NFHS Network.
Pixellot is a unit equipped with four High Definition cameras that cover the length of the playing surface and then focus in on the ball and player movement to deliver the action. The unit communicates with the scoreboard to insert a time and score graphic on the screen. Ambient audio is picked up by the device, but the play-by-play of an in-person announce team can also be patched in.
All that has to be done from a school’s perspective is type in the event schedule, and promote the fact that the games are available on MHSAA.tv. Pixellot does the rest. The unit can also be set up to isolate a camera on a fixed location, which allows for activities like wrestling to also be streamed.
“We’re going to do everything that takes place in our gym,” Johnson said. “We’re also excited about being able to record our practices as well.”
Johnson added that the school will look into installing additional Pixellot units at its middle school auditorium for musical events and LakeVille’s outdoor athletic fields in the future.
In its eighth year, the School Broadcast Program gives members an opportunity to showcase excellence in their schools by creating video programming of athletic and non-athletic events, with students gaining skills in announcing, camera operation, directing/producing and graphics.
The program also gives schools the opportunity to raise money through advertising and viewing subscriptions.
All sporting events – Live or On-Demand – are available on a subscription basis only for their first 72 hours online. They become available for free, on-demand viewing approximately 72 hours following their completion.
Here’s the schedule of events School Broadcast Program members plan to stream over the next week for broadcast at MHSAA.tv.
Tuesday, Jan. 31
- JV Girls Basketball - North Branch at Otisville Lakeville, 5:25 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - Goodrich at Davison, 6 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - North Branch at Otisville Lakeville, 6:45 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - Williamston at East Lansing, 7 p.m. (On Demand)
- Girls Basketball - Hopkins at Plainwell, 7 p.m.
- Boys Basketball - Hudsonville Unity Christian at Cedar Springs, 7 p.m.
- Boys Basketball - Birmingham Seaholm at Lake Orion, 7 p.m.
- Boys Basketball - Negaunee at Calumet, 7:20 p.m.
- Boys Basketball - Goodrich at Davison, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 1
- Wrestling – Quad at Cedar Springs, 5:20 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - Leroy Pine River at Beal City, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 2
- JV Girls Basketball - Birch Run at Otisville Lakeville, 5:25 p.m.
- JV Girls Basketball – Coopersville at Comstock Park, 5:30 p.m.
- JV Girls Basketball - Oscoda at Rogers City, 6 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - Birch Run at Otisville Lakeville, 6:45 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - Oscoda at Rogers City, 7 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - Gaylord at Alpena, 7, p.m.
Friday, Feb. 3
- Ice Hockey - Grand Rapids Catholic Central vs. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood @ MIHL Showcase, 4 p.m.
- Boys Basketball - Lowell at Cedar Springs, 5:30 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - Burton Atherton vs. Montrose, 5:30 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - Allegan at Plainwell, 6 p.m.
- Ice Hockey - Notre Dame De La Baie Academy vs. Detroit Catholic Central @ MIHL Showcase, 6 p.m.
- Boys Basketball - Coopersville at Comstock Park, 6 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - Lapeer at Davison, 6 p.m.
- Boys Basketball - Allegan at Plainwell, 7 p.m.
- Boys Basketball - Burton Atherton vs. Montrose, 7 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - McBain at Beal City, 7:30 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - Coopersville at Comstock Park, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 4
- Ice Hockey - Notre Dame De La Baie Academy vs. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood @ MIHL Showcase, 12:40 p.m.
- Ice Hockey - Novi vs. Detroit Catholic Central @ MIHL Showcase, 6:50 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 6
- JV Girls Basketball – Hillman at Rogers City, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 7
- JV Girls Basketball - Grand Rapids West Catholic at Comstock Park, 5:30 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - Midland Dow at Mt, Pleasant, 5:30 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - Greenville at Cedar Springs, 7 p.m.
- Girls Basketball - Grand Rapids West Catholic at Comstock Park, 7 p.m.
- Boys Basketball - Midland Dow at Mt. Pleasant, 7 p.m.
- Boys Basketball - Chassell at Calumet, 7:20 p.m.
The NFHS Network has announced new pricing for 2016-17, eliminating the Day Pass and lowering the cost of a Month Pass to $9.95. Subscribers will have access to all live video and streaming statistics across the country. All content becomes available for free, on-demand viewing 72 hours after being shown live. Some schools also will be selling Annual Passes at a discounted rate. A portion of every subscription sold by a school goes to benefit its program.
A complete list of participating schools can be found on the School Broadcast Program page of the MHSAA website.
Fans also can access scores of games in-progress on the NFHS Network website via ScoreStream. Click on the Scores button in the upper right corner.
A weekly staple on the MHSAA.tv website and the MHSAASports Channel on YouTube is back for another year with highlights of selected games last week produced by members of the Association’s School Broadcast Program.
This week’s highlights package consists of clips from last week’s Bark River-Harris at Powers North Central boys basketball game in which the Jets set a state record for consecutive boys hoops victories, an ice hockey game pitting Detroit Catholic Central at Brighton in a battle of two of the top teams in the state and a demonstration of Pixellot in action during a boys basketball game with Millington at Otisville-LakeVille.
Schools interested in becoming a part of the School Broadcast Program should contact John Johnson at the MHSAA Office.
PHOTOS: (Top) A laptop shows the variety of angles for the Pixellot and the calibration of its four cameras. (Middle) This Pixellot hangs at midcourt at Otisville-LakeVille High School.