The HAN Network, formerly known as Hersam Acorn Newspapers, announced an official broadcasting partnership with the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference (FCIAC) on Tuesday afternoon at the Norwalk Inn.
The partnership extends through the spring of 2018, with HAN replacing MSG Varsity, an arm of Cablevision.
“HAN Network’s move into live video and audio stream broadcasting is still in its nascent stage,” said Martin V. Hersam, chief executive officer of HAN Network. “However, it is only because of our hard-working, dedicated and incredibly innovative staff that we have been able to prove to the FCIAC that we are ready to be their broadcasting partner.”
Watch Tuesday’s joint FCIAC-HAN Network press conference from the Norwalk Inn:
Since February of 2014, HAN Network has broadcast 40 live FCIAC and CIAC sporting events. This fall, HAN’s schedule will cover 30 regular-season games, plus various Fairfield County playoff and championship games. Football, along with boys and girls soccer and field hockey, will be the featured broadcasts. HAN’s broadcast schedule also includes football broadcasts featuring John Jay High School of Katonah-Lewisboro, N.Y., a South-West Conference matchup between Weston and Notre Dame of Fairfield, a Southern Connecticut Conference matchup between Fairfield Prep and Jonathan Law of Milford.
“We’re looking at all other sports against our availability schedule,” Hersam said when asked if more games could be added to the schedule.
All programming will be accessible across all 18 of the HAN Network’s news sites, as well as FCIAC.net and a new corporate site, www.HAN.Network.
“Our current sports department has a stunning 150 years of combined experience covering the FCIAC and CIAC — all while working for HAN. Tim Murphy (30 years), Bill Bloxsom (29 years), Rocco Valluzzo (27 years), J.B. Cozens (21 years), Dave Stewart (19 years), Steve Buono (15 years) and our “rookie” Mike Suppe (9 years) are a collection of the finest sports editors and writers in Fairfield County. When you add-in Rob Adams (17 years), our sports broadcast manager and a cadre of talented volunteer broadcasters our combined FCIAC sports experience is closer to 175 years,” Hersam said.
All regular-season games will be free to viewers and pay for the production costs through sponsors and advertisers. The FCIAC will share in that revenue. Championship games and some playoff games will be available for a nominal pay-per-view fee, which is still being ironed out with league officials. This revenue will also be shared with the league.
“The FCIAC is operated by a dedicated group of athletic directors,” Hersam said. “They work tirelessly to give their student-athletes the safest, most competitive league experience possible, and we are proud to partner with, support and extend their vision for these young people.”
HAN Network will look to continue an objective balance between its news-gathering duties and its commitments as a broadcast partner — something it has established while operating the FCIAC.net website on behalf of the conference for the last five years.
“While HAN is a community news organization, there is a very important delineation between our relationship with the FCIAC and our obligation to cover local news,” Hersam said. “HAN has been operating the FCIAC.net website on behalf of the conference, under the direction of our New Canaan Adverister sports editor, Dave Stewart.
“It’s about the student athletes… Dave has taken great care to ensure that the content on that site is only about the student athletes, FCIAC coaches and related topics. It is not a ‘sports writer personality site,’ nor is it a news site.
“The same balance will hold true with HAN Network’s broadcasting strategy of the FCIAC. If, and when, there is real news to report regarding the FCIAC, that will be handled by our news divisions in an objective fashion.”
In the long term, HAN Network hopes to expand its scope beyond athletics. The current strategy involves working alongside students and faculty at the FCIAC schools’ broadcast journalism programs and audio/visual departments, while promoting other scholastic activities such as cheerleading, school bands and other extracurricular activities.
“Many schools in the FCIAC are already producing high quality sports, arts and entertainment broadcasting of their own; other schools are not far behind,” Hersam said. “These kids are doing amazing work that their communities should see and enjoy. Additionally, the school bands, cheerleaders, the kids who volunteer as team managers are all parts of what make the FCIAC such a terrific league. As a community news organization, we find the notion of telling those stories on video incredibly exciting.”
HAN is a family-owned multi-media firm that has been covering Fairfield County athletics for 139 years, first with newspapers, then on the web, social media, radio and now live streaming video.
To promote and celebrate HAN’s new partnership with the FCIAC, HAN’s broadcasting team will start a road trip throughout the county, visiting all 17 FCIAC-member schools, starting at Bridgeport’s Central High School on Wednesday, Aug. 26. On Thursday, Aug. 27, we’ll be at Trumbull High School, St. Joseph High School of Trumbull, Fairfield Warde High School and Fairfield Ludlowe High School. On Friday, Aug. 28, we’ll be at Darien High School, Stamford High School, Westhill High School and Trinity Catholic. The road trip resumes on Monday, Aug. 31 at Norwalk High School, Brien McMahon High School of Norwalk, Staples High School of Westport and Wilton High School. The trip winds down on Tuesday, Sept. 1, at Danbury High School, Ridgefield High School, New Canaan High School and Greenwich High School.
On this trip, the HAN Broadcasting team will be interviewing players, coaches, cheerleaders and more from as many fall sports teams as we can during the two hours we are at each school. Those interviews will be part of future Nutmeg Sports shows and posted on FCIAC.net and our local news websites.