With ESPN High School Rebrand, High School Sports Get The Spotlight

Extending its commitment to high school sports, ESPN will rebrand its high school initiatives under a new name that concisely captures and accurately reflects the business: ESPN High School. Launched in 2008 as ESPN RISE, ESPN High School will continue to deliver high school sports to fans and student-athletes across multiple platforms, including television, online, and in print.

“RISE had a good association, it had a history, but in terms of our productions, we had to explain what it meant before we got into what it represented,” says Dan Margulis, director of programming and acquisitions for ESPNU. “With the new ESPN High School brand, it’s an easier way to communicate and has a much more focused vision.”

ESPN High School, already a digital presence on ESPNHighSchool.com, will debut on television this weekend during the Boost Mobile Elite 24 on Aug. 26-27 and the ESPN High School Football Kickoff on Aug. 26-28.

Showcasing Future NBA Talent in Elite 24
On Saturday night, 24 of the nation’s top high school basketball players will take to the Venice Beach, CA, blacktop for the sixth annual Boost Mobile Elite 24.  While past rosters read like a who’s who of recent draft picks and current NBA stars, the Elite 24 can serve as their introduction to the national scene.

Under the ESPN High School umbrella, ESPN will highlight these star athletes while also exploring their teams, schools, and towns. ESPNU, as one of the platforms showcasing ESPN High School, places special emphasis on the logical link between high school and collegiate athletics; after all, says Margulis, high school athletes become college players.

“It’s an elite all-star game, so you want to approach it as a game,” says Margulis, “but you want to also get more into who these kids are… everything from what colleges he’s looking at to what makes him unique.”

Convoy Dispatch for Football Kickoff Coverage
This year, the ESPN High School Football Kickoff explodes from eight games across five states to 13 games played in 10 different states across the country. The Kickoff, which will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN3.com, presentes high school athletes in much the same way as the Elite 24, but in a far more technically ambitious production.

“Many of these high schools require site surveys prior to the event to work out camera placement, mobile unit parking, announcer positions, power, and lighting,” explains Amy Madden, director of remote operations for ESPN.  “We have televised from some of these schools in prior years [while] others are new, but we are working in conjunction with each to put the best product on the air.”

ESPN will roll out 11 trucks to cover 13 games, with two trucks pulling double duty for back-to-back games played in the same venue. One of the two mobile units, a Lyon MU9, will kick off the Kickoff at Columbus East High School in Columbus, IN, on Friday before traveling to Cardinal Stadium in Cincinnati, OH, to broadcast a doubleheader on Sunday.

Each production will use a five or six camera set-up and be staffed with an operations producer and safety representative. ESPN High School will produce 34 games this season across the network.

Connecting Teams with Fans and Student-Athletes
In addition to televised events, ESPN High School will provide content across multiple platforms, including ESPNHighSchool.com, ESPN HS Guy and Girl magazines, and social media. This multiplatform approach allows casual viewers, die-hard high school sports fans, and student-athletes to follow their favorite teams, track prospective college players, or simply learn more about a specific school, town, or program.

“If we’re doing a game from Denton Ryan [High School in Denton, TX], you can talk about Mario Edwards [ranked #1 in the ESPNU 150],” says Margulis, “and then online, there’s a piece that’s associated with him or with the school. We can tie it all together and create an interest on different levels. There’s a passionate fanbase for [high school sports] and we’re able to serve those fans a lot better now with [the ESPN High School] brand.”

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