NFHS Voice: Viewership Continues to Climb
February 28, 2020
By Karissa Niehoff
NFHS Executive Director
Often, the public’s concept of high school sports is a football or basketball game televised on a national cable channel between highly-ranked prep teams from different parts of the country – or the game-by-game tracking of “star” players like LeBron James or Zion Williamson by national media sources.
And why not? That is the way we follow college and professional sports. While there are certainly fans with loyalties to hometown teams, most viewers want to watch the best teams. When it comes to prime-time games, the networks are only going to feature the top teams and players.
The answer to the above question, very simply, is that high school sports are different. While there are about three percent of the almost eight million participants in high school sports who may play in those marquee college or professional games on television, the true stories of education-based athletics reside with the other 97 percent.
As the national leader and advocate for high school sports and performing arts programs in the United States, the NFHS is always looking for ways to showcase education-based activities in our nation’s schools and to demonstrate the accomplishments of the millions of participants in all sports.
And for the past seven years through the NFHS Network, we have been doing just that. In addition to the estimated 350 million fans who attend high school games annually, the NFHS has added opportunities for millions of others to watch high school sports through the streaming of more than 100,000 events last year at www.NFHSNetwork.com.
While viewers – and there were more than 14 million visits to the site last year – may be able to watch future college and pro players on the NFHS Network, that’s not the focus of those watching games on their phones, tablets or computers. Instead, the Network provides an opportunity for individuals to support their high school teams – perhaps in another part of the country years after graduating from high school. With the 100,000-plus events last year featuring numerous sports and events and divided 50-50 between girls and boys sports, the Network also offers parents or grandparents the chance to watch their kids’ and grandkids’ games when distances prevent attending games.
Although there was concern by some when we started this venture that streaming high school games on the Internet would adversely affect in-stadium attendance, such has not been the case. About 70 percent of NFHS Network subscribers watch games from beyond a drivable distance.
And the best stories are when the driving distances are REALLY not favorable – as in some other parts of the world. Easily the most heartwarming aspect of the NFHS Network has been the opportunity for men and women overseas in the military to watch their sons and daughters play high school sports. These are truly priceless moments.
While there is still nothing like actually watching a high school game in person, we recognize that technology has provided options for people in all areas of daily life. So, the opportunity to bring high school sports right into the home through the NFHS Network has been a dream come true.
Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is in her second year as executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the first female to head the national leadership organization for high school athletics and performing arts activities and the sixth full-time executive director of the NFHS, which celebrated its 100th year of service during the 2018-19 school year. She previously was executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for seven years.
This Week in High School Sports: 3/15/23
By Jon Ross
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties
March 15, 2023
This week's edition reviews the MHSAA Ice Hockey Finals, awards Game Balls to standouts in gymnastics and basketball, explains basketball replay rules and closes with highlights from the Lower Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals.
The 5-minute program each week includes feature stories from MHSAA.com or network affiliates, along with "Be the Referee," a 60-second look at the fine art of officiating.
"This Week in High School Sports" is powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury.
Listen to this week's show by Clicking Here.
March 8: Individual Wrestling Finals review, Competitive Cheer Finals highlights - Listen
March 1: Midland heroes, Team Wrestling Finals review - Listen
Feb. 22: Basketball Districts begin, Finals cap Upper Peninsula swimming & diving season - Listen
Feb. 15: Hockey tournament changes, MHSAA social media - Listen
Feb. 8: Winter Postseason Starts, Scholar-Athlete Award - Listen
Feb. 1: Kent City coach Jill Evers, "Officials Appreciation Week" - Listen
Jan. 25: Historic hoops wins, Michigan's national ranking in sports participation - Listen
Jan. 18: Brad Bush joins MHSAA, Al DeMott sets coaching record - Listen
Jan. 4: Winter Championships, Officials Recruitment - Listen
Nov. 23: 8-Player Football Finals, Lower Peninsula Girls Swimming & Diving Finals, Volleyball Finals - Listen
Nov. 18: Concussion Myths, Navea Gauthier's record-setting Shelby volleyball season - Listen
Nov. 11: Lower Peninsula Cross Country, Boys Soccer Finals review - Listen
Nov. 2: Football Playoffs Week 1 notables, Fall 2022 championships and broadcasts - Listen
Oct. 26: Football Playoffs pairings selection, Upper Peninsula Cross Country Finals - Listen
Oct. 19: Sunday Selection Show, Lower Peninsula Girls Golf & Boys Tennis Finals - Listen
Oct. 12: 25th Women In Sports Leadership Conference highlights - Listen
Oct. 5: Upper Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals champions, Rockford's Anna Tracey - Listen
Sept. 28: MHSAA Sportsmanship Summits return, Owosso's Macy Irelan - Listen
Sept. 21: MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards, Marquette's Maddy Stern - Listen
Sept. 14: MHSAA record books, Detroit Renaissance's Kaila Jackson - Listen
Sept. 7: Sports Participation rebounding, Paw Paw's Paige Miller - Listen
Aug. 31: Michigan Power Ratings and soccer seeding, Fenton's Gracie Olsen - Listen
Aug. 24: Redesigned MHSAA.com, key dates and how to watch football in 2022 - Listen