Central, KSAT, and TSP joint in huge collaboration


Esteban Serrano and James Peterson

If you watch KSAT newscasts at anytime throughout the day, you might have seen a promotion with sports reporter Greg Simmons talking about their newly-enhanced Big Game Coverage app. In a huge, ground-breaking collaboration, our neighbors across the street at KSAT 12, along with Texas Sports Productions have teamed up to bring the Greater San Antonio Area extensive high school football coverage like never before.

The app, available in the App Store and Google Play, has already streamed games from the first few weeks of the high school football season, but has promised to live stream over 100 games throughout the course of the season. Some of these games will be broadcast on the ABC affiliate’s local sister station, MeTV.

KSAT 12 is the most popular affiliate in the local market, and is also no stranger to major collaborations like this one. All this considering they are the official Fiesta Station, the station that airs the Dia de los Muertos Parade, and were the City’s official station for all things during the San Antonio Tricentennial Celebration back in 2018.

David Cuccio, Director of Creative Services at KSAT 12, takes us back to when the app was first launched, and his current impressions of how the app is running today. “We launched BGC ten years ago, we created an app for it, a place where you could go and find scores, locations of the stadiums… High school football is like religion in Texas, so we just figured you can’t go wrong with having an app featuring the best of high school football.”

Cuccio explains in its inaugural year, the app had much success with only containing scores and general information. Bandwidth and recent technology advancements have also allowed them to push ten games at once onto the feed, which is monumental from technology a few years ago. But as the concept of a high school football app was renewed for later seasons, popularity fell, until this year where COVID-19 is still playing a huge part in daily life. “Because of the pandemic, and people not being able to go to games as much, we said, you know, people might be ready to watch on their phones or pads or whatever they have, and watch the games that they would be attending but maybe can’t right now.” He continues, “So TSP approached us and said we do it already, but we’re looking for a bigger mouthpiece, and KSAT is the biggest mouthpiece we could ever wish for.”

Since the collaboration was officially announced, Cuccio says there was about a 300% increase in usage, including more than 40,000 app downloads in just the past few months so far.

But the audience goes much further than that. Cuccio talks about the success of the station over the years, and really connects a lot of their past success with other events to current success in collaborations like this. “It’s strictly because we have the most viewers. More people watch us than any other station in the market. So we’re lucky in that way. If the city wants to collaborate with us, if the sports people want to collaborate with us, all the Fiesta Organizations outside the Fiesta Commission…” He continues, “All the parades fought really hard with the commission to give us the contract to handle Fiesta, because we show them what we can do with it. Fiesta Fiesta, which is the kickoff of Fiesta, used to be in front of the Alamo with about five-hundred people, but we said ‘let’s broadcast that and show them what we can do with it.’ We broadcast it- the next year there were fifty-thousand people.”

Still very fond of the success so far in the collaboration, he says this is “the biggest initiative of COVID,” explaining, “This has been our shiny new object. We’ve been working on it for a year getting all the cords plugged in and making sure everything works… It’s been our General Manager’s biggest initiative. He wants this, and for us to make this successful, so he’s very happy with it. We meet weekly to critique last week’s games and then talk about what we can do better on our side too. We’re learning so much, I think TSP is learning a lot as well, and so it’s a win-win.”

There’s also a great deal of stress being let go by the work of sports reporters Greg Simmons and Larry Ramirez, as photographers for the station were previously sent to multiple games across town on a Friday night to attempt and get highlights for their 10pm “Nightbeat” broadcasts. Now, it’s not so much of a problem. “They love being able to get highlights from all these games,” Cuccio says. He continues, “They’ve done a good job all these years of sending some of our own photographers to shoot some of these games… It gave us like twenty more arms where we had eight arms.”

On another side of things, KSAT has a lot more to promote than just the success in the market. “It truly is a service to our community,” Cuccio says. “The grandparents who want to see their grandkids, grandson play the game or whatever, can’t necessarily be out of the game right now. This gives them a way to watch. I love high school and college football, so, I watch on the app every Thursday and Friday just to see which big games are playing and you hear some crazy stories of crazy things happening on the field, and it’s so cool. It’s a great experience.”

Bobby Stautzenberger, Vice President, Co-Owner, and Lead Play-By-Play Commentator at TSP, had a reaction very similar to that of Cuccio’s in terms of the project while expanding on publicity and the importance of promotion. “It’s very exciting… We knew from a promotional standpoint that it would carry a great deal of weight. They’re going to help grow our brand and we’re going to help grow their Big Game Coverage brand.”

TSP recently had a 3-year TV deal with local station KCWX. There, Stautzenberger confirms that the crew was only broadcasting about 26 games a season. Now, it’s bumped up to more than 100 games with the recent contract. “It takes a while in marketing to really get the word out,” says Stautzenberger. “Once people start figuring out what it is, they really start reacting.”

So, where does Central Catholic come into play in all of this? Well, before the beginning of the school year, it was announced in the Aeries Communication System that Central Catholic would be working with TSP to launch a sports broadcasting club, and would allow students to participate in numerous roles to run a broadcast. This includes camera operations, directing, and commentating.

Stautzenberger explains how it all came about. “I had approached Clarence Kahlig, back in the baseball season about the idea of a sports broadcasting class… It evolved into a club because we didn’t have time to get coursework for this year, and he really liked the idea, then we met with Jason Longoria, Eddie Ybarra, and Clarence.”

He continues, “Our goal was to really develop this- this was our first year with it… We hope that we can keep developing it, it’s not going to be perfect right off the bat because we’re all learning from each other, but I think this has a potential of really being something good for Central Catholic.”

Looking ahead to future years, both Stautzenberger and Cuccio were asked if future continuation with the app and the partnership between the two local media giants were looking good. Stautzenberger says, “I think so… They need the content and we need the promotion. We could help each other a great deal.” Cuccio says, “Now that we’ve seen what we can do with it, it will make it even better. I would love to see them hang around and be with us for years, as we launch our next generation of TV. They’re a great partner, and we love to work with them like we work with Fiesta- every year we start again.”

To watch any of the games in the Big Game Coverage App, including the ones students from Central conduct, you must sign up to be a KSAT Insider. This is something Cuccio also explained to the Pep that the station was trying out for the past few years, and says they have already signed up tens of thousands of people to be insiders. On top of the access to Big Game Coverage, he also says you’ll be eligible for other exclusive offers and invites to future events planned by the crew at KSAT-12. Games are also available in the KSAT-TV app on Roku and Amazon Fire Stick.

A photo of inside the KSAT-12 studios and offices.