Now in its seventh year of broadcasting high school events online, the National Federation of State High School Associations’ live and on-demand streaming service – the NFHS Network – has embarked on its extensive lineup of state football playoff games.
In the past year, the NFHS Network, a joint venture among the NFHS, its member state associations and PlayOn! Sports, has seen a significant increase in both membership and viewership at www.NFHSNetwork.com.
Last week, the NFHS Network agreed to terms with its 45th member state association as it became the official digital streaming partner of the California Interscholastic Federation’s (CIF) state championship events. With the addition of the CIF, the Network has added two new associations during the past calendar year with the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA).
“The continued development of the NFHS Network has allowed us to bolster our state association membership over the years, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome the KSHSAA and, most recently, the CIF into that group,” said NFHS Network CEO Mark Koski. “With those additions, we continue to move closer to our goal of incorporating all 51 of our member associations.”
With the month of November signaling the start of high school football state playoffs, the NFHS Network staff in Atlanta has been busy coordinating broadcasts across the country. Most contracts allow the Network to cover contests starting from the first round of the playoffs through the finals, with exceptions in some states that have exclusive television rights with other networks for their championship games. In total, the Network will cover more than 2,000 football playoff games this season.
“November is always an exciting time at the Network as we begin our state football playoff coverage,” Koski said. “Football is the most popular high school sport across the country, so the opportunity to watch some of the top teams from around the country battle for their respective championships certainly brings a significant number of viewers to our Network platform.”
The Network covered more than 100,000 events during the 2018-19 school year and has set a goal of 150,000 this year. Recent statistics would indicate that goal may be in reach, as the NFHS Network streamed 15,357 events in October – nearly twice the number from October 2018.
Playing a major role in the NFHS Network’s success is the School Broadcast Program (SBP), an initiative that allows students – guided by an advisor – to produce Network broadcasts, and the development of the Pixellot camera system. While the SBP has given member schools yet another opportunity to involve their students in a cocurricular activity, the Pixellot camera system caters to schools that may not have the resources to institute the SBP.
Pixellot cameras do not require an operator but instead use an auto-tracking feature to follow the action. This allows many schools to stream their events that would otherwise not have the means to do so. The NFHS Network’s current promotion, which provides schools two Pixellot cameras for a one-time payment of $5,000, has proved to be popular. The Network sold 335 new Pixellots in October, which pushed total units sold to more than 3,500 for the year.
“As we work with schools to try to get more content, Pixellot is one of the ways to do that,” Koski said. “With our ultimate goal being to broadcast two million games per year – covering all freshman, junior varsity and varsity contests nationwide – we knew we couldn’t get students to produce all of those through the SBP, so we had to have some kind of automated solution, and Pixellot is definitely the right partner for that.”