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

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: 3/20/24

By Jon Ross
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties

March 20, 2024

This week's edition reviews the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals and awards Game Balls to high achievers in Girls Basketball Regionals.

MI Student AidThe 5-minute program each week includes feature stories from 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 division within the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP).

Listen to this week's show by Clicking Here.

Previous Editions

March 13: Hockey, Gymnastics, Boys Swim & Dive Finals review, Tyrone Wheatley - Listen
March 6:
Individual Wrestling, Competitive Cheer & Bowling Finals review - Listen
Feb. 28:
Team Wrestling, Girls & Boys Skiing Finals review - Listen
Feb. 21:
Boys Basketball Tournament preview, Upper Peninsula Swimming & Diving Finals review - Listen
Feb. 14:
Saginaw High/Arthur Hill boys basketball rivalry, Student Advisory Council - Listen
Feb. 7:
MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards, Charles E. Forsythe Award honoree - Listen
Jan. 31:
Girls sports participation, MHSAA Wrestling Tournament schedule - Listen
Jan. 24:
MHSAA Women in Sports Leadership Conference, Hillman basketball's Trenton Taratuta - Listen
Jan. 10:
Doug Towler's ice hockey coaching record, 2023-24 officials registration news - Listen
Jan. 3: 
MHSAA Girls & Boys Basketball Tournament schedules, Finals dates for all winter sports - Listen
Nov. 22: 
MHSAA Girls Volleyball, 8-Player Football and Lower Peninsula Girls Swimming & Diving Finals reviews - Listen
Nov. 15: Football record breakers, 2022-23 MHSAA postseason attendance - Listen
Nov. 8:
MHSAA Boys Soccer, Lower Peninsula Cross Country Finals reviews - Listen
Nov. 1:
MHSAA Girls Volleyball Tournament schedule, Football Playoffs first-round review - Listen
Oct. 26:
Lower Peninsula Girls Golf Finals, Boys Tennis Finals review - Listen
Oct. 18:
MHSAA Football Playoff selection, Bear Lake football coach Sam Mullet - Listen
Oct. 11:
Upper Peninsula soccer, MHSAA sports participation excels nationally - Listen
Oct. 4:
Jackson Lumen Christi's Herb Brogan, MHSAA Sportsmanship Summits - Listen
Sept. 24:
All-woman football officiating crew, Powers North Central's record winning streak ends - Listen
Sept. 21:
35th MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards, Grass Lake QB Brayden Lape - Listen
Sept. 14:
Athletic director education, MHSAA video library - Listen
Sept. 7:
Adjustments to 11-player football, boys soccer Finals schedules - Listen
Aug. 31:
New out-of-state opponents rules, football record book updates - Listen
Aug. 24: coverage ramps up, "Made in Michigan" tells us where they are now - Listen