Rankings of all sorts seem to be an American passion, and when it comes to college football, perhaps “obsession” is a better word. And maybe this season -- with the advent of the new College Football Playoff (CFP) system – we will be able to crown an “indisputable” #1 championship team. (But don’t count on it.)
But rankings or no rankings, college football bowl games around the holiday season are a special treat for millions of sports fans who will tune primarily to ESPN for at least 30 different games, culminating in the January 12, 2015 CFP National Championship to be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Great sporting events have always been a staple of ad-supported cable television, and make no mistake about it… ESPN is the “stapler”. Last season, ESPN televised 29 college bowl games, which on average collectively achieved a robust 3.6 U.S. HH rating (6.7 Share). That’s a 16% increase in ratings (23% share increase) over the very high viewership levels of the prior Bowl Season! (1)
And, if we isolate the major bowl games from last season, the audience-drawing power of these games is in full view. The 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship game achieved a 13.0 U.S. HH Rating (19.1 Share). The next two highest rated bowl games: the Rose Bowl (9.5 rating / 14.8 share); and the Allstate Sugar Bowl (9.0 rating / 13.9 share). (2)
Local Viamedia advertisers – especially those seeking to reach men – can’t seem to get enough of college football Bowl Games. Across the 44 Viamedia markets in which local advertisers invested in Bowl Games over the past two seasons, we have seen a dramatic (+40%) increase in the number of :30 spots, +9,800 last Bowl Season (2013/14), versus 7,052 prior Bowl Season (2012/13). (3)
Over the past two seasons, nearly 600 local cable clients have invested in college football bowl games, with nearly one-third of them appearing in both years, and raising their advertising commitments (on average) by +12%.
When it comes to local advertisers on college bowl games, it all comes down to three words: cars, money and food. The automotive category captures the lion’s share of local cable ad dollars – 58%, followed by financial services (10%) and restaurants (5%). Throw in retail/department stores and you’ve got three-quarters of all local dollars associated with just four advertising categories. (see pie chart above).
This year, the first Bowl games on ESPN begin on December 20. Typically, the first wave of games are considered “minor” bowl games (but don’t tell that to the fans and graduates of the participating schools.) And, then, after Christmas ESPN hits the “trifecta” airing three bowl games a day through the first of the year, 2015. That’s when the playoffs start, culminating in the January 12 College Football Championship Game.
Will this final game decide which team is “truly” #1 in the hearts and minds of college football fans across the nation? Maybe… or, maybe not (especially for Baylor and TCU fans whose teams just missed out on the new college football playoff system). But one thing is certain: Practically every serious college football fan in America will be watching!
- Source: Viamedia analysis of Rentrak TV Essentials Data (Telecast Summary Report) for ESPN (Sports/Performance genre) for the months of December & January 2012/13 and 2013/14. Ratings and shares are Viamedia time-duration weighted estimates based upon 28 Bowl Games in 2012/13 and 29 Bowl Games in 2013/14. Viewing estimates are for only original live airings (no repeats).
- Source: Viamedia analysis of Rentrak TV Essentials Data (Telecast Summary Report) for ESPN (Sports/Performance genre) for the month of December & January 2013/14. For the Top3 highest rated Bowl Games. Viewing estimates are for only original live airings (no repeats).
- Source: Viamedia internal analysis of Sports & High Profile Tracker data for “College Bowl Games” for the months of December & January (2012/13 vs 2013/14) across the 44 Viamedia markets in which local advertisers invested in Bowl Games over the past two seasons. Note: Excludes all zero dollar spots. Includes 266 spots on ESPN2 in 2012/13 and 410 spots on ESPN2 and ESPNU in 2013/14.