Interest in North Carolina high school sports continues to grow, and HighSchoolOT’s audience growth in 2023 is clear evidence of that trend.
After covering nearly 400 schools in almost all 100 counties in North Carolina during 2023, HighSchoolOT has set new audience records.
Nearly 2.4 million monthly unique visitors visited HighSchoolOT on desktop, mobile, and the app last year, setting an all-time record dating back to 2008. Year-over-year growth topped 56% when compared to 2022. The number of monthly unique visitors grew in all 12 months compared to the previous year, and new all-time records were set in five different months.
Spring sports and the summer months saw the most traffic ever, showing interest in North Carolina high school sports goes well beyond just football and basketball seasons. The spring sports season of March-June included over 742,000 monthly unique visitors.
“While football brings the largest audience, we are seeing that other sports and other seasons have a lot of interest as well. There is a lot of untapped potential in many of those sports,” said Nick Stevens, HighSchoolOT’s managing editor. “The key to HighSchoolOT’s growth last year was finding new ways to engage people in various sports across the state, all while continuing our unmatched statewide coverage of football.”
Football season (August-December) averaged over 242,000 monthly unique visitors. Coverage of football was also enhanced as HighSchoolOT hired a full-time football editor to cover the sport year-round.
The signature football product – HSOT Live – live streamed 88 football games involving 100 different schools from 42 different counties and one out-of-state team this fall. HSOT Live is a production similar to the NFL RedZone Channel. HSOT Live features live games each Friday night with the hosts in the studio taking viewers from game to game with live coverage, replays, and instant analysis. It is hosted by Stevens and T.J. Thorpe, a Durham native who played college football at UNC and UVA, spent time in the NFL with Philadelphia and Washington, and in the CFL.
“Bringing the best games, teams, and players across North Carolina to the audience each week is a key differentiator for HighSchoolOT, something that no one else is doing in the country. There are other live streams, but no one else is producing a RedZone style show. This gives us flexibility to go where the action is happening, making sure we do not miss any of the big storylines,” said Stevens, who also hosts the HSOT Postgame Show on Friday nights, which includes interviews with players, coaches, and media members from across the state.
Both HSOT Live and the HSOT Postgame Show are commercial free.
HighSchoolOT visitors accounted for more than 10 million page views last year – the most since the pandemic. Video consumption also returned to pre-pandemic levels.
HighSchoolOT’s audience is not limited to the website and app though. The social media footprint of HighSchoolOT grew to more than 130,000 followers across Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. And more than 30,000 email addresses have been registered to receive the weekly HighSchoolOT newsletter and breaking news emails.
In August, HighSchoolOT launched a premium product called “HSOT Insider” which gives high school sports fans in North Carolina exclusive access that is unavailable elsewhere.
From August-December, over 1,100 people paid to become HSOT Insiders. These Insiders receive exclusive access to playoff projections, insight and analysis from our team, preseason and postseason coverage, and much more.
HSOT Insider subscriptions are available for $6.99/month or $59.99/year.
“We are proud to say our coverage of high school sports continues to grow, even when many local media outlets are cutting their coverage of high school sports. We want to make sure that all high school sports in North Carolina receive recognition,” Stevens said. “Covering the entire state is expensive though, so while most of our content remains free on HighSchoolOT, some of our exclusive features are for Insiders only. This helps ensure that we can continue covering high school sports across the state.
While HighSchoolOT’s growth shows the audience for high school sports content has grown and returned to pre-pandemic levels, it’s worth mentioning that participation in high school sports in North Carolina also continues to grow.
According to the N.C. High School Athletic Association, participation in high school sports in North Carolina increased in nearly every sport. Participation grew by 8.6% for boys and 4.3% for girls. There are nearly 200,000 student-athletes participating in high school sports in North Carolina, and some sport that have seen declining participation in recent years saw a rebound last year, including football.
“As participation grows in high school sports, interest will grow too. We are confident that means the growth we have seen at HighSchoolOT will continue as well,” Stevens said.
HighSchoolOT’s statewide coverage of North Carolina high school sports will continue in 2024.
Are you or your business interested in reaching parents, coaches, students, and members of the community involved in high school sports in North Carolina? There is no better way than with HighSchoolOT. Contact Errik Reid at email@example.com to discuss opportunities.
Thanks to HSOT’s Nick Stevens for this CapCom story & graphic.