ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque Internet company is out to change the way New Mexicans get their high school sports fix.
And it’s doing it one click at a time.
ProView Networks, a company co-owned by Michael Vigil and founders J.D. Healy and Steve Davis, is gaining popularity for streaming live and archived events on its site, www.nmaafilms.tv.
The company has aired 600 games since its inception 16 months ago. It’s aiming to double that by the end of the year.
Here’s how it works:
ProView offers schools a chance to purchase a bandwidth on its site. It is then the school’s responsibility to film the events and feed it to ProView’s site. Audio occasionally comes from local radio station feeds. In most cases, volunteers call the games.
The schools can then generate revenue by selling ads.
ProView’s next big leap comes with live broadcasts of every state basketball tournament game in the Metro area. For the first time, viewers will be asked to pay for access to the site. The 60 games next week can be seen for $14.95.
As Healy puts it, the hits are up, the advertisers are taking notice and business, it seems, is about ready to boom. If the company can sustain its momentum, there’s not much doubt that the future of prep sports coverage will go through a metamorphosis.
“We’re not looking for this business to make us rich,” says Healy, ProView’s CEO. “But we’re not looking for this business to make us poor, either. We want this to succeed, and it takes a solid business plan and people committed to the process to make it really work.”
That’s where Healy comes in. A man who speaks the universal language of finance, he realized early on that the notion of taking a video camera to a game and streaming it to the Web required more than an ambitious dad with a laptop.
It took technical know-how, and that’s where Michael Vigil comes in. He’s considered the man behind the scenes, the one who knows which wire plugs into which port, the one whose background is rooted in computer jargon.
Then there’s Davis, the company’s president. A former Lobo who was a prep hoops star at Clovis, he made his money in construction. On the side, he coached for 11 years while dabbling in radio.
He admits now he was skeptical when first approached with the plan of streaming games.
“I thought it was a good idea but I initially turned it down,” he says. “And then I woke up in the middle of the night one night and started breaking it down, just like I do in construction. I realized we had to hire good people and build a good product.”
Healy and Davis provided the seed money for their venture. The appetite for family members to see Junior on the home computer provided the rest.
The company’s largest appeal comes with kids ages 13 to 17 and adults between 35-49. And it’s not just people in New Mexico who are logging on.
“We’re getting people from all over the world,” Healy says. “We don’t need Nielson ratings for what we do – we know exactly who’s logging on and where they’re coming from. Word gets out to a soldier overseas or to a relative out of state, they go to the site and take a look.”
It should then come as no surprise that ProView is evolving rapidly. The company employs 12 to 14 freelance camera people, has half a dozen reliable play-by-play men and has a full-time staff of five.
“What I like is they’re giving schools like us a chance to show what we’re about,” says West Las Vegas teacher and frequent ProView contributor Richard Tripp. “J.D. and those guys, they’re so enthusiastic to let schools help themselves.”
The evolution continued last semester when the site launched the Steve Davis Show, the weekly APS Sports Center with Kenny Barreras and, most recently, the weekly Robert Portnoy Show.
It has also aired the New Mexico Activities Association’s seeding and selection shows for basketball and is committed to expanding its coverage this spring into baseball, softball, track and tennis.
“I envisioned us getting 100 to 150 games a week and us being sort of a 24-hour ESPN for high school sports,” Davis says. “We might get to that eventually. The longer we go, the more people are starting to believe in what we can offer.”