AIA, AZ Family partner to broadcast select championships

The Arizona Interscholastic Association has partnered with Arizona’s Family to broadcast select high school championship games live on local channels beginning this season.

The announcement comes after the AIA announced a three-year deal with local station, which broadcasts live on channels 3 and 5. The deal makes Arizona’s Family the “Exclusive Content Partner of the AIA,” a position previously held by Bally Sports Arizona.

“We’re thrilled to have a partner in Arizona’s Family that is able to engage fans in a way that will provide a great deal of excitement around high school sports,” AIA Executive Director David Hines said. “The content fans will enjoy are more than just championship events. It’s also how the AIA impacts each school’s community. Now there will be many more opportunities to showcase the talent we have at our schools and those programs.”

The three-year partnership begins with the upcoming 2022-23 school year. As a result, the 5A, 6A and Open Division football championship games will be live on Arizona’s Family channels. It is the first time since 2015 football championship will be broadcasted on live television.

Arizona’s Family will also broadcast all 5A, 6A and the new Open Division boys and girls basketball finals. The 5A and 6A baseball and softball championship games will also be live.

Mountain Pointe head basketball coach Kaimarr Price, who led the Pride to two straight state championship games in 2020 and 2021, said it’s a big opportunity for the players.

“This is a huge opportunity for these young student athletes to have the chance to play on live TV,” Price said in a text. “High school sports provide a unique experience which they will carry the memories of throughout life.”

In previous years, Fox Sports Arizona, which later became Bally Sports Arizona, recorded championship games and broadcasted them at a later date on a tape delay.

Coaches from across the East Valley believe it is a good move by the AIA to help promote high school sports on a larger scale.

“I think for the notoriety of what’s going on, promoting the sport in Arizona, that’s a positive,” Chandler head football coach Rick Garretson said. “It gives everybody the ability to not have to pay but still watch the kids play and support them. I think it’s definitely a positive step for the promotion of AZ football.”

As part of the partnership, weekly stories on Arizona’s Family channel lineup and the ability to broadcast bracket release shows done for most sports throughout the school year.

Since its inception in 2019, the Open Division football championship game has become one of the must-see events in Arizona high school sports. The first-ever championship game between Saguaro and Chandler drew thousands to Sun Devil Stadium.

In recent years, baseball and softball championship games have nearly filled Farrington Stadium at ASU and Tempe Diablo. Basketball championships, since moved to Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, have also drawn large crowds and that is only expected to grow with the addition of the Open Division for girls and boys this year.

But one constant complaint from Arizona high school sports fans has always been the lack of a working livestream. Now, that problem will likely be solved with the AIA’s new partnership with Arizona’s Family.

“Arizona’s Family has always been committed to serving our community,” Vice President and General Manager of Arizona’s Family Debbie Bush said in the press release. “We know that there are so many inspiring stories coming from the high school experience and this partnership with the AIA allows us to shine a light on all the good that is happening in our local communities.”

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