IHSAAtv is Free to Watch. In 48 Other States You'll Need a Credit Card.
In 2005, Comcast successfully bid on a five year contract to exclusively televise IHSAA tournament games. However, their reach was limited. Only 50% of the public had access or subscribed to terrestrial cable. 50% of high school fans were left without a means to watch. IHSAA Commissioner Blake Ress resolved to provide access via internet webcasting...albeit in it's infancy. Emmis communication's President Jeff Smulyan decided to expanding their IHSAA radio contract to include streaming. Enter IHSAASports.org, a new entity.
Ress required that games be 'free' and no charge to the fan would be allowed.
Beginning in the 2005-2006 school year, IHSAASports streamed regular season and tournament games along with various high school centric features. It's existence ended in 2010 when WTTV, Channel 4, was awarded the contract for television rights.
"We've created an expectation. Let's keep it going"
IHSAA Communications Director, Chris Kaufman saw the growth and potential of internet streaming. Moving 'postage stamp' images were now full screen, television quality images. Broadband internet was in 95% of Indiana homes. And still, some fans would not be able to see the WTTV-4 broadcast. He contacted Rick Vanderwielen, President of HomeTown Sports Indiana and asked for a solution. Rick launched IHSAAtv.org in 2010 just a week before the Volleyball State Championships.
In 2014, the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) began soliciting member associations asking for exclusive rights to webcast tournament games. The arrangement was a pay-per-view model, splitting the proceeds between each team, the NFHS, the NFHS managing partner and the company that produced the game. However, new Commissioner Bobby Cox stayed true to Ress' position that it must be free to the fans. 48 other states and associations currently charge to watch.
Today, IHSAAtv.org thrives. During one basketball session in 2018, over 150,000 fans watched on-line. A recent regular season football game attracted 20,000. Games are not only seen on the primary website but also on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, iOS and Android apps as well as Roku, Amazon Fire and AppleTV.
Current Director of Broadcasting, Heath Shanahan believes, "If we're not everywhere, we're nowhere." Living true to that mantra, IHSAAtv is now seen on the WTHR Operation Football website and associated apps, bringing the number of outlets to twelve were fans can watch IHSAAtv productions...free.
IHSAAsports.org was a property of Emmis Communications (2005-2010)