OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As high school basketball state tournaments continue this week across the state, a bill is going through the Oklahoma legislature right now to change laws on how fans watch their hometown teams.
The author of the bill says visiting fans are being kept in the dark when it comes to watching the high school sports teams online. Opponents of the bill say they can watch… for the right price.
“It’s a support your local home team bill,” said Senator Bill Coleman.
The Republican from Ponca City says currently when teams go on the road for games, they are often being blocked from streaming on their own sites by the home team. The home team saying they have broadcast rights.
“The icing on the cake was when the Owasso school system told me that their video production class was shut out of two games here in the metro with the Owasso high school. I thought, ‘ok, this has gone too far,’” said Coleman.
Coleman is broadcaster and says he has been blocked himself. He says he wrote SB 302 to make sure visiting team had the ability to stream and do play by play of games on their own sites.
“The bill is actually a fair way to have video streaming done,” said Coleman.
KFOR reached out to multiple school athletic directors. Only one responded and didn’t want to go on camera. But told us that its important they have complete control of the broadcast rights. He said charging the 5 dollars to watch online is the same price as attending the game in person. The fee also helps pay for the production costs of putting the game online.
“It’s not just a matter of paying the fee, which is pretty significant given that this is high school sports, but it’s just – how do we even access it,” said Vance Harrison of the OAB.
The Head of the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters says visiting fans often has trouble finding where to watch online and keeping fans involved with the hometown teams is important.
“We don’t have a problem with the home team having its own media provider, we just don’t want that exclusive agreement to block or deny the away team from also presenting the contest or the game to their fans,” said Harrison.
Coleman says, this year specifically, keeping access open helps keep attendance numbers low to stop the spread of COVID 19 but it also helps extended family members.
“When you do the video streaming Grandma in North Dakota can watch their grandson or granddaughter play basketball,” said Coleman.
Senate Bill 302 passed through the State Senate 45-0. It now moves to the house for approval.