Love Brandon or hate him, he knows how to market a product. If he can sling greasy discs of glop to the tune of hundreds of millions, surely he can sling the second winningest program in NCAA FB history?
The Most Watched Teams in College Football
We’re well into basketball season and football season is officially in the books, King KenPom has you covered on the basketball stats so before signing day hits, I wanted to take a quick look into the numbers behind the most watched teams of college football from 2013.
Sports Media Watch published a handy guide the ratings for the last football season. Unfortunately there isn’t good data for the Big Ten Network, The Pac 12 Network and CBS Sports Network, but all of the other major players are there. With nearly 400 games televised I dug into the viewer totals to see which teams had the most eyeballs on them, which weekends had the most viewers and other interesting tidbits.
The 2013 Most Watched Team Was…
Alabama. Not a big surprise. I looked at the numbers three different ways and Alabama came out on top in all three measurements.
11 of Alabama’s 13 games made it to a network or an ESPN. Overall, nearly 81 MM people watched those 11 games. On a per game basis, Alabama’s 7.4 MM viewers topped the country, as well.
|Total Viewers||Average Viewers||Included Games|
|#3||Ohio State||77.1||Ohio State||6.4||12|
|#5||Texas A&M||60.8||Michigan State||5.7||10|
Iron Bowl champion Auburn was a close second in both measures, with Ohio State rounding out the top three. Florida State just missed the top five average, as did Texas A&M. Michigan State cracked the top five with a strong finish. The Big Ten Championship was the fifth most watched game overall and the Rose Bowl was second only to the Title game. The most surprising entry in the list turns out to be our very own Michigan Wolverines. There were 37 other teams that were on the included channels more than Michigan, but with 6 million viewers per showing, a lackluster season didn’t affect the interest in the team.
As anyone who has followed TV ratings knows, when and where you’re on can be as important as who is on. Here is a look at the average viewers by time and channel type:
*Games on Holidays (Sun/Mon of Labor day, Th/Fr of Thanksgiving), Bowl Games and Conference Championship games excluded.
**Mirrored games are the combined totals between ABC and ESPN2
Unsurprisingly the networks draw better crowds, whether it is the networks or the games themselves is tough to parse out, but there is a clear pecking order as you move down the ladder.
So with a slot average, you can begin to look at which teams do well versus their time slot.
|Team||Variance vs Slot|
|#1||Alabama||+2.8 MM viewers per game|
Michigan jumps even higher on the list once you factor in the real estate it was given. Michigan did a full 50% higher than an average matchup for the six non-BTN slots it was given (Minnesota was excluded as a mirrored game and no Bowl games were included). Despite a lackluster season, Michigan’s ratings continued to be some of the best in the country.
Looking at the worst performers there are surprising names. No one was interested in the Kiffin drama as USC was over half a million viewers below their slot expectation. Notre Dame was burdened by high expectations, falling 750,000 viewers per game below their slot average. Notre Dame had the best real estate in the country, with 12 games broadcast and a sky-high 4.7 MM viewers per game expected.
The Most Popular Weeks of College Football
With weekly peeks and valleys, the numbers of people watching college football on Saturdays increased as the season progressed in 2013.
Total Saturday viewers increases by about 250,000 viewers per week until Thanksgiving and conference championship weekend when the ratings jump 35%
The bowls continue to be huge draws, with nearly 3.8 million viewers per non-BCS bowls, which is roughly equal to an ESPN night game but with twice as many instances (30 versus 14 regular season). The bowls aren’t going away, folks.
The BCS bowls and the national title game drew an average of 17 MM viewers.
Oklahoma versus Alabama and the Rose Bowl were both right around the average while UCF/Baylor and OSU/Clemson balanced out the national title game. Based on this, I would estimate a national semi-final could draw somewhere close to 20 million viewers.
Dave Brandon Must Be Proud
The brand is strong. Despite a disappointing season on the field, viewers turned out to watch Michigan games at level on par with national title contenders and controversial Heisman trophy winners. If the data continues to be readily available, it will be interesting to see how a more successful season (hopefully 2014) impacts Michigan’s overall ratings.
I wonder if we count the win vs Grand Rapids High School in 1896 in our total wins tally. If not, we should count it twice!
It bums me out that the things we must cling to grow more and more irrelevant by the year.
I was suprised to see the night games and afternoon games with higher viewership than the early games. I guess there is less competition among other games and/or the west cost is waking up late. Do you think this is part of the reason Michigan had so many late games? Putting a desirable team in a "high output" time slot should result in even higher ratings. Also, how does playing on BTN effect viewership numbers?
I'm actually curious about a team like Uconn. They played 5 (!!) night games (Townson, Maryland, Michigan, Louisville, & at Temple). I remember being suprised that M was a night game, because they already had 4 night games scheudled. How much do they benefit in viewership by playing so many night games?
I have to wonder about the bowl game, though. The late, late start may have captured west coast watchers, but who else in particular? Maybe the gambit was that hard core football fans will watch games with marquee name teams regardless of placement.
Here is a link to a piece the New York Times ran a couple of years ago, which piece does a market analysis by TV market, numbers for fan viewership per team, etc. I wish they would update the data:
I saw these numbers on Sports Media Watch about a week ago but the "variance vs. slot" numbers add a whole lot of context.
I remember a lot of people thinking back in September "why on Earth is ABC showing Michigan vs. Connecticut in Prime Time?" Connecticut stinks and Michigan isn't exactly playing top-level football, either. Still turned out to be the highest rated game of the week, with more viewers than your average prime-time network spot.
The Brand draws eyeballs.
Now just think what those numbers would look like if we were regularly winning the Big 10 and playing in BCS games.
This is one of the great advantages that we have as a program. We are one of the few truly national draws, with fans and alums all over the place. If we start winning big games again, Michigan football will matter as much as anyone and we'll be a place that elite recruits from anywhere in the country dream of playing for again.
nor did the team play. Michigan football is all about the helmet! The Helmet!
This started with Canham, right? Is this steady, trending up or down since, say, DB became the AD? (Corrected for supposed ratings splintering since then in general). Is DB's noodle bringing us eyes? Is the football quality driving them away?
Just a guess, during '01-07 Michigan was higher compared to the rest of any top 5 then.
I think it could be taken another step beyond what has been presented here. A Sagarin-esque methodology on this would be intereresting. Presumably Michigan brings some eyeballs and our opponenets bring some as well. I'm gonna go out on a limb and hypothesize that Ohio State draws more interest than UConn. It should be possible to tease out the relative interest each team has even further than what has been done here.
I also wonder if there is a ranking effect as well...being ranked #1 must be worth something.
I also wonder if there is a seasonality effect. Later in November as stakes rise (conference races and National Championship jostling) I'd imagine that the televised games are more naturally a draw there too.
Ok, I'm done wondering.
As always, great analysis. I wonder, though, what the numbers would like without the perceived SEC dominance and what Michigan's numbers would be like if we had higher levels of success on the field. Average numbers probably wouldn't change much, but total viewers would I bet.