The rapid evolution of the high school sports television market is taking yet another step forward, this time with key players on the West Coast reaching out to try and gain rights to future games.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Time Warner Cable is in advanced negotiations to land what would be the first California-wide television contract to broadcast California Interscholastic Federation high school sports events from across the state.
While the Los Angeles-area CIF City Section and Southern Section would probably generate the most interest (particularly for games like the annual East L.A. Classic above) and income from the rights, any deal with Time Warner would prospectively set the stage for comprehensive coverage of the biggest matchups across the state's different sections.
If the Time Warner deal is completed -- and the Times reported that the cable giant is aiming to wrap up its prospective statewide deal before the end of August -- the cable network would prospectively air multiple games each week, with coverage based on geographic region.
In Southern California, that could add up to a packed weekend of games throughout the forthcoming season. FOX Sports West already has a deal to broadcast one Southern Section football faceoff each week while Cox Cable will likely broadcast at least one game from either the City Section or Southern Section, opposite whatever offerings Time Warner scoops up.
Add in a bevy of live streaming webcasts on IBN Sports and FOXSportsWest.com, and some big weekends could showcase as many as six or seven games shown live in a two-day span.
The deal may or may not be finalized within the next couple weeks. Either way, Time Warner's interest is just another harbinger for the many ways in which high school sports are rapidly being incorporated into the nation's mainstream sports networks' broadcast plans.
Just think: All of these more formal and lucrative rights deals are coming now, before the new individual college networks are even being allowed to show high school games over their airwaves. If the Pac-12 Network's regional sub-networks and other channels like the Longhorn Network eventually get the prep sports green light, there might be more high school games on television than their college counterparts within a matter of two or three years.
That's a startling thing to think about when you consider how few high school events were broadcast on widely available networks five years ago, let alone two decades ago.