Fred Grant is a busy man these days, but it is a good thing.
The owner and chief executive officer for Northern Maine Media Inc., the parent company of WHOU (101.1 FM) in Houlton, is in the first year of a three-year contract with the Maine Principals’ Association to provide live streaming of high school basketball tournament games.
The broadcasts began Tuesday night with seven preliminary round games and will continue with Bangor High School’s Class AA girls and boys quarterfinal games on Wednesday at Red Barry Gym in Bangor. The Bangor girls play Lewiston at 5 p.m. and the boys face Oxford Hills of South Paris at 6:30.
The games can be seen by going to https://www.whou.live/.
WHOU acquired the streaming rights previously held by the Northeast Sports Network and will broadcast the North and South regional semifinals and finals in all five classes. WHOU will show 60 games in all.
The National Federation of High School Sports Associations Network will provide live streaming of the quarterfinals, except for Class AA, in both the North and South regions and Maine Public Television will be televising and streaming the 10 state championship games.
The state title games will be carried on its two channels, Maine Public Television and the PBS Kids Channel.
WHOU actually broadcast quarterfinal games in 2013 but the NFHS earned the rights the following year.
WHOU and the NFHS are subscription services.
It costs $10.99 a month to subscribe to the NFHS and $10 per month, or $70 a year, for a WHOU subscription.
Grant said it is expensive to broadcast the games, so they have to charge a monthly fee.
“We’d lose our shirts if we didn’t,” Grant said.
WHOU has been live streaming games for eight years but this will be the first time it will be involved with regional semifinals and championship games.
“We’ve been growing every year. We’re ready for it,” Grant said. “It’s real exciting to be covering these games for the folks.”
Grant recently added veteran play-by-play man Dale Duff to his broadcast team.
Mike Burnham, executive director of the MPA’s interscholastic division, said he is elated to have WHOU on board.
“They do an outstanding job broadcasting games,” said Burnham, who added that the announcers and production quality are top-notch.
The Maine Public Broadcast Network used to televise the regional semifinals and finals along with the state championship games. But when the MPA expanded the classes from four to five for the 2015-2016 season and games were being held simultaneously at three sites instead of two, MPBN didn’t have the personnel or resources to broadcast from all three sites.
The Class AA quarterfinals are held at the home courts of the higher seeded teams, which is why those games aren’t under contract to be streamed. WHOU took the initiative to carry the two Bangor games.
The Class AA semifinals and finals are held in Portland, while the Classes A, B, C and D quarterfinals, semifinals, regional finals and state championships are held in Portland, Augusta and Bangor.
The Class B state championship games will be held Friday, Feb. 28, at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The Classes A and AA title games are set for Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland and the Classes C and D championship games are scheduled for Feb. 29 at the Augusta Civic Center.
Both WHOU.live and the NFHS Network stream other sports as well to give viewers a variety of programming.
For example, WHOU will stream the swimming and diving state championships, high school hockey playoff games and the boys and girls hockey state championship games.
The NFHS Network will carry the state wrestling championships.