A Touchdown for Minnesota
Posted: 12/5/2013  |  By: Nu Yang
Every newspaper understands high school sports are a community staple. At the Minneapolis Star Tribune, they’re taking their digital coverage seriously. Their High School Sports Hubs is a suite of 18 comprehensive websites devoted to high school athletics across the state. Each hub can be found at startribune.com/sports/preps.  

Recently, the Star Tribune updated every sports hub website to a responsive design and updated its free Star Tribune High School Football Scoreboard app to provide real-time updates, playoff/tournament information, player statistics and more for Android and Apple mobile devices. According to the company, the interface also supports tournament brackets, player profiles, team rosters, leaderboards and other high-demand features.  

Senior vice president of digital Jim Bernard said the redesign started in February and launched in early September. “We redesigned everything from the structure to the features,” he said. “We launched our mobile sites and revised our apps…it was our response to the increase of mobile usage, especially among teenagers.”  

It would make sense that high school students, parents, fans and schools are being targeted with this product. “We know this audience is very hungry for this content,” Bernard said. He added feedback has been positive so far and he has seen a double-digit growth in mobile usage since the redesign was announced.   

The sports hubs also provide new advertising opportunities for local businesses to reach families and schools. For example, businesses can sponsor upcoming hockey and basketball mobile apps. In addition, videos were also a key component of the redesign along with photo galleries, where users can also upload their own video and photos. Bernard said he anticipates an increase in video consumption and video advertising due to this higher engagement.  

With the Star Tribune’s sports department taking the lead and by partnering with coaches and athletic directors, Bernard said he would like the hubs to continue to provide real-time updates and critical statistics to all high school sports fans in the state. He said he has even seen coaches use the statistics to evaluate team performances and they have provided feedback to Bernard.  

Even though football and basketball may dominant coverage in certain communities, Bernard said having the High School Sports Hubs allows sports like cross country and lacrosse to receive the same amount of attention. “Every impression counts,” he said.