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Want to watch high school sports remotely? It just got easier in Hillsborough

The NFHS Network is streaming games from every Hillsborough County public school this season, with some games available for free via The Identity Tampa Bay.
Hillsborough High cheerleaders prepare to lead the Terriers onto the field before playing East Lake last season. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Hillsborough High cheerleaders prepare to lead the Terriers onto the field before playing East Lake last season. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Published Aug. 12, 2019
Updated Aug. 12, 2019

High school sports fans in Hillsborough County can watch live streams of games this season after the NFHS Network and The Identity Tampa Bay each struck deals with the school district.

The NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) Network has already installed Pixellot cameras at the football stadiums and gymnasiums of all 27 Hillsborough County public schools. Every athletic event in those venues will be available to watch on the NFHS Network for $9.95 a month.

The Identity Tampa Bay also announced a content agreement with the NFHS Network and the school district to stream a series of games featuring Hillsborough County public schools on its platform for free. The digital network, which is part of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik’s entertainment company, will steam two or three football and volleyball games each week in the fall. The plan is to rotate games so each of the county’s public schools can be seen at least once. More games (about eight to nine weekly) will be available for winter sports, such as basketball and soccer.

Each week, there will be a spotlight game that will include a play-by-play announcer and a color analyst. The others are just a raw feed, all of which is available at theidentitytb.com. The Identity also plans to produce weekly highlight packages.

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Those partnerships help satisfy the video need for area fans, especially with Spectrum Sports no longer broadcasting live games.

“This was something we wanted to get involved in because there needs to be an avenue to watch high school games,” said Ben Shotten, influencer and production manager at The Identity Tampa Bay.

The NFHS network, a joint venture between the National Federation of State High School Associations, its member associations and PlayOn! Sports, provides live and on-demand video of high school sports events through a digital network available at www.NFHSNetwork.com and on Apple TV.

“What really makes it appealing for the high schools is the lack of maintenance involved,” NFHS Network CEO Mark Koski said.

The network receives a schedule of games and the installed cameras turn on once the scoreboards do for each game.

Now in its seventh year, the NFHS Network has cameras in every state and streams more than 100,000 high school games annually. The number will continue to grow, especially after the deal with the Hillsborough County school district, which Koski said is the largest ever for his network.

And more cameras are coming to the area. Koski said there are partnerships with public schools in Pasco and Polk counties to start streaming games later this school year, too.

The next step is to have cameras at baseball and softball fields, which Koski said could happen nationally within two years.

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