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Detroit Lakes native sees market in high school sports online

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Detroit Lakes native sees market in high school sports online
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Detroit Lakes High School sporting events could soon be coming to the small screen.

Not the small screen of television, but a computer monitor, if the district hops on board the Webcasting trend.

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There is a company out there willing to broadcast Laker sports for free. Detroit Lakes native Brent Stromme helped found Buffalo, Minn.-based Webcast America over a year ago.

The company serves as a webcaster for 24 high schools, according to a check at webcast50.com.

Stromme said his plan doesn't come with a catch. He said that Webcast America pays for the camera, laptop and wireless Internet hookups to get a school up and running. Plus, he said that his company pays students to operate the camera and provide play-by-play.

It's close to a $3,000 investment, Stromme said.

Webcast America gets that back by selling advertising. Stromme added that schools receive a cut of ad revenue as well.

A recent Star Tribune article highlighted the company and Stromme said that several schools have contacted him based on that.

"We knew that would happen when it ran," Stromme said.

But Laker fans won't be able to see Detroit Lakes on the Internet in the short term.

Detroit Lakes Superintendent Doug Froke said that he wants to see if there are any local companies interested in webcasting, as well going through any potential agreement with Webcast America with due diligence.

Froke said the district would investigate the matter as they would with any other vendor.

"If you go with a third-party, you have to make sure it can sustain itself," Froke said.

He doesn't want to add webcasting on a whim and see it disappear just as fast.

"There's a little more to it than just sign up and go," Froke said.

Detroit Lakes Athletic Director Mitch McLeod said he knows Stromme from his baseball coaching days. He said that webcasting high school sporting events would be good for the extended family of athletes.

"It's a fantastic opportunity to show games and allow relatives to watch," McLeod said.

McLeod said that webcasting games wouldn't hurt attendance figures, at least in a significant manner. He said the only attendance numbers that might dip would be from the visiting side.

His rationale is that the quality of webcasting is nowhere near the level of a broadcast TV production and that locals would still prefer to see the game in person.

Stromme said his goal with Webcast America is to connect those distant relatives of high school athletes that wouldn't be able to watch them play otherwise.

And the Internet made it easy to do so.

"It comes from an entrepreneurial spirit," Stromme said.

The quality of Internet video has jumped dramatically in the past few years with faster connections enabling better quality video.

It's also cheaper to produce as high definition cameras can be bought for under $1,000.

The price to deliver the high amount of data needed for video is also cheap compared to several years ago.

Stromme said that he's even fielded calls from as far away as Alaska.

But he wants to focus on providing webcasting services closer to home.

It's been successful for his company thus far and he hopes to turn a profit later this year.

All he needs now is advertising sales and perhaps more schools to sign up to broaden his market.

"A school has never said no to our request," Stromme said.

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