This week, Mark Koski — a former Highland Hornet and New Mexico Lobo — achieved a career summit.
Koski, 40, has been selected CEO of the National Federation of State High School Associations NFHS Network in Atlanta.
He will assume those duties effective today, and will continue to serve as the NFHS’ director of marketing from his Indianapolis office. Koski will bounce back and forth between the two cities.
“It’s been a great venture,” Koski said in an interview with the Journal earlier this week. “We started it four years ago, and it’s really taken off since then. For aunts and uncles and grandparents and friends who can’t make it to the game, it’s a great option.”
In addition to getting his schooling in Albuquerque, Koski is a former assistant director with the New Mexico Activities Association, and also a former assistant football coach at Manzano.
In 2007, he joined the NFHS staff. The NFHS Network is a fast-growing entity. It has about 80,000 subscribers a month; the fee is $9.95 a month.
New Mexico is one of those states were a network makes even more sense, given its size.
“New Mexico is one of our top states,” he said. Koski is going to divide time between Indianapolis and Atlanta.
The NFHS Network is a joint venture between member state associations and PlayOn! Sports. Last school year, it covered more than 25,000 events in 27 sports and activities. The digital platform is available on NFHSNetwork.com, and also Apple TV.
The president of the NFHS Network Board of Directors, Jack Roberts, said this in a release:
“(We) see in Mark Koski a person has a powerful passion for the mission and potential of the NFHS Network. He was involved with the Network when it was only an idea, has been instrumental in expanding its reach and has great ideas for furthering its success.”
Koski said the influx of digital games is not necessarily hurting the walk-up gate numbers around the country.
“What we’ve found out, through the network the last four years, is that 20 percent of the subscribers of a particular game are within about 100 miles of that game,” he said. “Eighty percent are outside that.”
NMAA associate director Dusty Young said there is no breakdown study looking at this only with New Mexico numbers.
“I don’t think it has a major impact on gate receipts,” Young said. “Typically, the biggest factors are weather and matchups.”
Albuquerque-based ProView Networks already was in business before the NFHS Network got off the ground.
“New Mexico is fairly unique with a streaming service like ProView,” Koski said. “It was great, because it was already established.”
Just last week, there were 400 prep football games on the network, a handful of them in New Mexico. And while football and boys basketball get the bulk of the airtime, the network is not limited to those two sports.
Football, for all the obvious reasons, is a huge draw. The business model, Koski said, is that the NFHS works with individual schools, who use their video departments to produce their games and get them seen. There is no fee for a school to get its games broadcast, and the school receives half of the subscriptions revenue from that game. Moreover, the school can pocket 100 percent of advertising revenue.
Outside of state basketball and some state football, ProView primarily broadcasts games involving schools in the metro area. New Mexico also has Sports Primo, based in Santa Fe and largely showcasing schools in Santa Fe. Like ProView, it covers multiple sports.
“New Mexico is very different than all other states,” Koski said. “Typically, states have only individual schools (broadcasting).”
Koski said the NFHS Network would love to see some expansion, specifically citing the annual Las Cruces-Mayfield contest from Aggie Memorial Stadium, generally recognized as one of the best 10 rivalry games in the country, as a game he’d like to regularly see on his network.
“Our ultimate goal is to have school broadcasts of all 19,300 (schools) nationally,” he said. “Every high school in the country that competes for a state championship, they are members of the NFHS.”
Streaming games has benefits beyond just an avenue for people who can’t attend in person. It can serve as a recruiting tool for colleges, and it can also be a place for rival coaches to scout opponents — particularly coaches outside of the metro area.
Koski spent time on the NMAA staff with two executive directors — Dan Salzwedel and Gary Tripp — and credited both men as he made his jump in 2007 to the NFHS headquarters possible.
“I was lucky,” he said. “It was a dream job at the time.”
The NFHS works with 45 of the country’s 51 state associations, which includes one in Washington, D.C. As for his home state, Koski said he still gets back to New Mexico a couple of times every year.
“My love is New Mexico,” he said. “That is where my heart is.”