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OHSAA gives schools permission to seek deals for live broadcasts of Friday night high school football games

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has announced that it will allow high schools to partner with media outlets to broadcast Friday night football games.

As Ohio high schools face the reality of limited crowds at football games this fall, the Ohio High School Athletic Association has passed a ruling in an attempt to help schools make up for some of the lost revenue.

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On Tuesday, the OHSAA announced that it has accepted a proposal from OHSAA staff members that "allows schools to seek rights fees from local media outlets or video production companies to provide live video of their home regular-season Friday night football games during the 2020 season." Previously, the host school has only been able to air live broadcasts of Friday night regular-season football games on the school-owned TV station, website or school-controlled webpage, with media only being able to air Friday night games on delay.

According to the OHSAA, due to attendance restrictions resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, an increasing number of schools have requested to partner with third parties to generate revenue from rights fees and pay-per-view of Friday night football broadcasts. Currently, schools are permitted to do so for all other regular-season contests in any sport, as well as non-Friday regular-season football games.

“We believe that many of our schools will be able to work with partners to stream and televise their home regular-season football games,” OHSAA Interim Executive Director Bob Goldring said in a release. “Most of our schools rely on revenue from their home football games to help fund their athletic department, so this is one way that schools can still do that while facing limited ticket sales."

Meanwhile, live video of any OHSAA postseason tournament is still only allowed to be broadcast by the official TV partner of the OHSAA or with OHSAA approval.

Last week, the OHSAA reaffirmed its plans to move forward with its fall sports seasons. On Saturday, the Ohio Department of Health extended an order providing guidance for contact sports, including a ruling that no spectators are currently allowed to attend competitions for contact sports.

In a memo sent to member schools on Monday, the OHSAA said that the ODH's order is temporary and is subject to change.

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