ISU Student Blake Whittle Aims to Break High School Sports Streaming Monopoly
When one door closes, another door to opportunity opens. Blake Whittle, Illinois State University sophomore business administration major, 20, of Pontiac, realizes that fact.
In February, popular high school sports streaming service The Cube was acquired by their competitor, National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHA). The acquisition generated a market void that Whittle hopes to fill.
"The Cube was a great platform and there were some great people behind it, but unfortunately, it changed owners way too many times, and it could not find it's home," Whittle said. "It is my intention to develop my own live streaming platform similar to The Cube, improve on fallacies and have it ready to go by August 2018."
Whittle's new platform is called High School Zoom. Through High School Zoom, he hopes to cease the current monopoly in high school sports streaming. NFSHA currently charges viewers a $10 monthly fee to watch games.
"Our main difference between the other contender in this industry is our platform [High School Zoom] allows for fans, parents, grandparents, recruiters, coaches or even students to watch for free," Whittle said. "I also have a lot of passion and hands-on experience for this particular industry, so I have a strong foothold."
The experience Whittle refers to is four years spent as founder and director of Pontiac Township High School's broadcasting program. Under Whittle's leadership, the program rose to over 720 streamed games and 200,000 views.
Whittle keeps the relationships he built along the way strong. As a result, Pontiac High School signed onto Whittle's platform.
The signing should provide streaming access to the Pontiac Holiday Basketball tournament. The tournament previously featured former Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose and amassed over 30,000 views in three days on The Cube.
That said, Whittle's ambitions extend beyond local outlets. In addition to partnering with California software company Telestream, High School Zoom builds relationships with other West Coast high school sports companies, such as Sports Thread. On the other side of the country, Whittle aims to contact every high school east of the Mississippi River before summer concludes.
Whittle's goals may seem overly ambitious. In response, he harkens on the most valuable lesson Whittle has learned at ISU so far.
"Everything is not as complicated and as strict as what it seems," Whittle said.
Whittle also learned valuable lessons from spearheading businesses outside of the classroom. He is the CEO of cybersecurity company Clik IT. Additionally, he developed eResume Today and a designated driver app for students called RideMe. The latter endeavors recently ended.
Regardless, Whittle realizes that one can learn more from defeats than victories.
"What I love about America [is that] we are fortunate in the fact that we have the opportunity to try new things and the opportunity to fail," Whittle said.
Learning from experience, Whittle evolved from a developer to a CEO role in High School Zoom. A team of developers and designers are currently working on revolutionary software that allows for automatic streaming without human labor.
Whittle hopes the software is available by November.
"I will have schools mount fixed IP cameras in their gyms or football fields," Whittle explained. "We want to build a system in which their IP cameras connect to our backend system, the school imports their events, and at the time of their event, our system automatically starts streaming the game for them automatically."
Ultimately, Whittle wishes to create a platform with the right people that can grow and provide high school sports entertainment for everyone's enjoyment.
"Anyone can put $1 million into a platform and build it, but if you don't have the right people backing it, then it will fail," Whittle said.