Kevin Devaney Jr. has covered high school sports in the Hudson Valley since 1998 and is currently vice president of digital content at LocalLive Networks (locallive.tv).
How does LocalLive cover sports?
We help schools livestream and record boys’ and girls’ sports at all levels, not just varsity football and basketball. We serve over 200 schools in 17 states, especially in the Northeast. Schools pay us a fee and lease the cameras. We install them and handle all elements of video broadcasts: shooting the games, program scheduling, video storage, etc. Our operators control the cameras remotely. Most schools have two cameras, but larger ones can have up to 12 installed at their pool, hockey rink, gym, auditorium and fields. A base of 150 to 200 operators shoots the majority of our games.
How did COVID affect business?
We started about a year and a half before the pandemic. The perception of LocalLive.tv then was that we served prep and large, rich schools. When COVID hit, nobody was allowed at games. It amplified the need for our service. We’re here to stay. I don’t know of too many schools now that don’t livestream football.
How have high school sports changed in your 25 years of reporting?
I used to go to games and report about it in a print newspaper that would be published 12 hours later. Then it was on a website, then video and then smaller, shorter videos or social media. Now, games can be viewed live on a phone. I don’t think kids have changed, but parents are more demanding of coaches. Sports culture has also changed. Kids have much more information about the surrounding schools’ athletes. And there are more sports being played outside of school. Kids play on travel teams, have private coaches.
Are the upcoming high school basketball playoffs a high-pressure time?
It’s actually less stressful. The games are more important, but there are fewer of them. Early in the season we cover way more games. But in the playoffs, we can really hone in and give better-quality service, better promotion. If I had to choose between attending the NBA final or the state high school final I wouldn’t think twice. I’d sell the NBA tickets.
You also cover local government, churches and the arts. How do those audiences differ?
It depends on how interesting it is. We have plenty of board of education meetings with 30 to 40 viewers and high school football games with 50 or 60. But once in a while, you get a championship game or a very contentious school board meeting that has 1,000 or more viewers. We cover about 30 churches, mostly Catholic and Episcopal, plus a couple of synagogues. Church audiences aren’t huge, but we’ll get over 100. We’ve learned that people want to watch their local Mass, hear their local priest.