Thursday, September 04, 2008

Just a Thought on College Football's Popularity

One of the thoughts that's been percolating in my head in recent months has been the notion that baseball is over-covered relative to college football in the national media. This thought jibes with most of the irrational prejudices that I use to govern my opinions on sports. It works with the "Atlanta isn't a bad sports city" theory because Atlanta is possibly the best college football city of any of the major media markets. It works with the "ESPN is too influenced by its location in Connecticut, where the Yankees and Red Sox take on out-sized importance." It jibes with my idea that the lack of a college football playoff isn't as bad as people make it out to be because it means that college football has the only useful regular season of any American sport (with the possible exception of the NFL). Hell, it even works with my left-of-center notion that players in the free market don't always identify their self interest with perfect accuracy.

Anyway, the ratings for the first weekend of college football are in and they give credence to the idea I'm working on. The Alabama-Clemson game drew a 4.0, despite the fact that it was played on Saturday night, which is typically a dead period for TV ratings, and it does not exactly involve two giant media markets (unless you take into account that the entire South was interested in the game and the South is collectively a very large media market). The 3:30 games on ABC drew a 3.2. What's most interesting to me is that the 3.2 drawn by a rebuilding Michigan team against Utah and USC obliterating Virginia was a better number than any baseball broadcast on ESPN or Fox this year (as of July 6).


Anonymous said...

CFB is definitely undercovered relative to MLB. Despite their recent investment in the SEC, I still don't think ESPN really understands the popularity of the game. They just see the ratings and calculate the cost per Neilson point. It reminds me of one of those kids in school that never really understood math processes, but could blindly plug numbers into equations and spit out the results.

It's a cultural thing. We just had a large contingent of NY natives move into my work, and they are completely baffled by the cfb talk between various fan bases. The baseball fans among them are even more mystified that no one else wants to talk baseball with them. I tried to explain that to many 'round hyah, baseball is a diversion during the summer when there ius absolutely no other sport to watch, but once cfb starts, it becomes an afterthought at best and annoyance at worse (I don't need score updates on the Rockies and Marlins) until the WS, when the sport briefly registers minimally on the collective sports consciousness once again.

A couple of the self professed NFL "fans" among them watched CFB with us this weekend, adopting Syracuse for about a quarter and a half. My favorite part was when they asked questions about the game my sister could have answered.

Anonymous said...

Michael - I'll challange your point. Not because I disagree with you, but because I'm anxious to hear your defenses.

The college football numbers were only that high because it drew NFL fans into the mix on the week prior to the NFL season.

Anonymous said...

This is Atlanta market specific, but last year the Alabama-Georgia game got a bigger local market share than the Falcons game that week. In every other NFL market the league game was the biggest ratings draw for the weekend.