A growing number of school districts in Central Texas are buying massive video screens for their football stadiums and using lucrative ad revenue to pay off the expense.
The Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday that seven districts in the Austin area each paid nearly $500,000 for a Jumbotron. In some cases ad sales have already covered the cost and are providing revenue for district budgets. But in other instances ad sales have lagged.
Most of the content shown on the screens, including graphics and commercials for local businesses, is produced by students.
Officials say that working with professional video equipment gives students valuable experience in television production. Some students have gone on to study production in college or get jobs in the field.
Evan Bradley, a senior at Lake Travis High School, is now working for the Austin Toros, the San Antonio Spurs' D-League team in Cedar Park. There he operates graphics and replays on the team's online video stream. At his high school games, he told the newspaper, the giant screen has changed how spectators watch high school games. He recalled a recent game when a player was called out of bounds. After instant replay on the Jumbotron, the crowd went, "Oh, no, that's wrong."
With advertisers like local luxury car dealerships and medical centers, Lake Travis officials believe they can get more than $600,000 in advertisement over the next decade. Their screen has brought about $135,000 in its first year.
In the ten years since it was installed, Round Rock's screen has brought close to $495,000, well over the $408,000 that the district invested in it.
Meanwhile in other school districts ad sales are lower than expected. Since 2008, Georgetown has made $141,500 and Bastrop received $164,000 since it installed its screen three years ago.