Going to the Video

By Patrick Bohn

Installing video scoreboards brings a new level of excitement to home contests. It can also provide a great revenue source.

For many high school athletic departments, the battle to generate funds is never-ending. But with the economy still struggling, it’s imperative for schools to come up with new ways to bring in revenue. Two high schools are using video scoreboards to do just that, with great success.

David Coates, Athletic Director at Middletown (N.Y.) High School, is handcuffed a bit by the state when it comes to fundraising. Because schools in New York are not allowed to put up permanent signage around athletic fields, he needed an alternative method for bringing in corporate dollars. He found a solution in the Eversan video board his school has, on which he puts up advertisers’ logos and airs commercials. And the move has been beneficial in multiple ways.

“There are a lot of dead periods before, after, and even during a game where you can get fans’ attention by putting something on the video board.” Coates says. “Texas Roadhouse restaurant, for example, paid for pre-game meals for our varsity football and boys’ basketball teams. In exchange, we show one of their commercial multiple times a game, and put a ‘Thank you’ message on the board several other times.”

Coates says since the school ramped up use of the video board for advertisements two years ago, it has generated just under $8,000 dollars a year, although, in many instances, companies don’t give Middletown money directly. Instead, they often take a page from Texas Roadhouse and cover the costs of team meals, a team trip, or equipment. “That’s critical for us,” he says. “We’ve got over 70 percent of our students on free or reduced lunch, so finding someone to help out with these costs is important.”

“We give companies a lot more flexibility when using a video than an old-fashioned sign. If a company wants to change an ad in the middle of the season, they can send us something digitally and we can get it up on the board in less than a day. That’s much easier than going out, taking down old signs, and putting up something new.”

Coates sees numerous advantages in using the Eversan board as opposed to traditional methods most schools employ. “We give companies a lot more flexibility when using a video than an old-fashioned sign,” he says. “If a company wants to change an ad in the middle of the season, they can send us something digitally and we can get it up on the board in less than a day. That’s much easier than going out, taking down old signs, and putting up something new.

“Additionally, rather than thanking certain sponsors in certain seasons due to space limitations in programs, I can thank the football sponsors all year long, instead of just football season,” Coates continues. “This makes the companies happy, which makes for a better and hopefully more profitable relationship.”

Coates says he thinks there’s no limit to the amount of money the video board can bring in, and that he’s just scratched the surface of what he’d like to do. “We’ve got about 20 companies who advertise on the board with us, but really, there’s plenty of room to add many more and increase our revenue,” he says. “The video board is useful for showing replays or live game feeds, naturally. But the ability to use it to attract advertisers is really great.”

Unlike Coates, Washington (Mo.) High School Athletic Director Bill Deckelman is allowed to put up permanent signs around his athletic fields. But, for some potential sponsors, the cost of doing that can be prohibitive. “Companies have to commit to a three-year deal, and pay between $3,000 and $6,000 each year for a sign,” Deckelman says. “For a lot of them, that’s a significant expense.”

So Washington, with the help of some enterprising students from a marketing class and a scoreboard from Daktronics, has come up with an easy, low-cost way for sponsors to get their company logo out there. “The kids had this idea that we could put a company’s logo on the video board of our scoreboard a few times during football games and charge around $100 per game,” he says. “This past year, we had three sponsors do that, and we brought in about $4,500 that way.”

“The kids had this idea that we could put a company’s logo on the video board of our scoreboard a few times during football games and charge around $100 per game. This past year, we had three sponsors do that, and we brought in about $4,500.”

Another benefit to using the video board is the ability to give companies the flexibility to put their logo up for a specific game that’s scheduled to draw a big crowd. While Deckelman hasn’t had the chance to do that at Washington, he sees it as a logical next step if the opportunity presents itself. “If we’re hosting a big playoff game, and a company wants to put their logo on the board for just that one game, not only can we do that quickly, we could charge a premium for it,” he says. “That’s more difficult to do with traditional signage because of the time delay associated with producing it and putting it up.”

Overall, Deckelman is excited about the potential of the scoreboard. “Video boards are just so much more engaging than traditional signage,” he says. “Those signs get lost in the weeds. People’s eyes will gravitate towards a video board naturally.”

Patrick Bohn is an Assistant Editor at Athletic Management.