Varsity News Network Aims to be “ESPN.com for High School Sports”
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do anything extra—they’re reporting stuff they already have to report.”
Vaughn also points out that high school athletic directors are also using VNN as an official communications channel—telling players and families that a game has been postponed, for instance—because the information is disseminated widely once it’s been uploaded to VNN. “For an athletic director, it can be cumbersome learning new technology,” he explains. “Our platform serves as a conduit. Our software sends information by text, email, Twitter, and Facebook to people who have signed up.”
Vaughn says there are other Web-based platforms similar to VNN; two of the biggest, MaxPreps and HighSchoolSports.net, are run by CBS and USA Today, respectively. He contends what makes his site better is its simplicity. He says he has more than 100 partner schools in Michigan so far, and 240 partner schools across the three-state region. VNN is backed by Grand Angels and the New York-based RSL Venture Partners, and it plans to begin raising a Series A round soon. As for how it plans to monetize, Vaughn says schools pay a setup fee, and the company works with the schools to secure local sponsors to support participation.
Vaughn says VNN will use its $500,000 windfall from Accelerate Michigan to continue growing the platform nationally. “Two years from now, we’d like to be the player in this space, networking all these schools together and providing content,” he adds. “We also encourage reporters to come to our site to get fodder for news stories. We’re really celebratory as opposed to analytical.”