Dramatic rise in college football ratings in upscale cable homes
Have you ever strolled through a college town (or on campus) and wandered into the college bookstore? Hundreds and hundreds of spirit items greet the eye… from t-shirts and sweaters, to coffee mugs, decals, banners, flags, you name it.
Now, take all that paraphernalia from every college across the country, and stack it all — every single last item — into one of those enormous Amazon distribution centers. Thousands of pallets, row upon row. And then invite college fans from every school to stroll right in and pick out whatever items they want… their heart’s desire. And, then, lastly, when everyone is settled in, wave a gigantic baton and lead each section in singing their respective alma mater!
Of course the scene I’ve drawn is hyperbolic, but the school spirit, crowds and noise may not be that far off.
Welcome to the start of the 2015 College Football Season, that begins in the waning summer days of August and culminates in a series of exciting January Bowl Games that ultimately decide the number one team in all of college football.
And as it has done for so many years, cable television will be leading the charge with dozens of games each week on ESPN and ESPN2, (along with BTN, SECN, FS1 and ESPNU, to name just a few others.) Last year, fans were treated to 150 live football games on just ESPN and ESPN2 alone, both of which turned in solid ratings and shares throughout the fall season:
Average amount invested by local cable advertisers rises 75% in three seasons
The nationwide ratings we’ve documented above are just that – “nationwide”, which obscures the attraction of college football at the local market level (when hometown market teams are playing.) Take, for example, the November 29th, 2014 game against cross-state SEC rivals, the Crimson Tide of Alabama versus the Auburn Tigers, which achieved a very strong 8.6 U.S. household rating. But that pales in comparison with the five highest DMA ratings in the entire country (out of 200+ DMAs), which all happen to be located in the state of Alabama, and range from a “low” of 29.9 (Mobile), to a high of 44.3 (Huntsville) – that’s 5-times the national average:
When it comes to attracting upscale homes, ESPN has always been at (or near) the top of the heap, and college football is no exception. We took a look at U.S. household ratings by income classification and (as can be seen below) the ratings rise in almost straight-line fashion from a low of 1.7 for homes with less than $30,000 income, to double that rating (3.5) for homes with $250,000+ income:
Local Cable Advertising Demand
You can practically take a random walk through our internal traffic and billing records and come away with some “wow” metric documenting the growing demand for college football by local cable advertisers.
One of the more dramatic figures is the average dollar investment Viamedia clients have been willing to make in the college game. Taking 2011 as the base year, the average amount our clients invested in 2012 rose 24% (i.e., 124 Index). One year later, the index stood at 139. And, then, last season — 2014 — the investment per client went through the stadium roof (175 Index):
Focusing on just the 2014 college football season, 750 local cable clients ordered a record-shattering +46,000 30-second spots across 69 (out of 72) Viamedia markets. That comes to +60 spots per client. (Source: B.I.G.SM database — Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved)
And when we confine our analysis to the 46 Viamedia markets that exhibited advertising in College Football over the past two years, we find a dramatic +70% growth in total ad investments driven entirely by an increase 30-second commercial units. And the growth was widespread as 42 out of the 46 markets exhibited increased local cable advertising levels – that’s 91% of the markets:
Local Cable Advertising Categories
When it comes to football – either professional or collegiate – the automotive category is far and away the number one television category, and local cable is no exception to that rule as Viamedia auto clients (manufacturers and dealerships) accounted for over half of all ad dollar investments across the past two seasons:
The King of Collegiate Sports
If you asked the average college sports fan, “What is the one major sport you could not live without?” I suspect football would be the most common answer. It is, after all, the collegiate sport that has not only ingrained itself in our nation’s collective consciousness, it has also become inextricably linked with the economics of higher education, which is another way of saying that college football brings in a lot of money. Look no further than what is happening at Auburn University whose Tigers play in the best football conference in the country – The SEC. The Auburn Board of Trustees recently approved a $14 Million plan to improve the south end zone of the stadium, which will include the largest video board in the country – a behemoth “tower of power” standing nearly 60 feet tall and 190 feet wide.
And what will you see flashed up on this video extravaganza? Thousands and thousands of wild fans dressed in their team’s colors, waving all sorts of team banners, and hootin’ & hollerin’ for all their worth. And that’s what makes football the King of Collegiate Sports and such an attractive game for cable advertisers across the country.
For more information on Viamedia, visit www.viamediatv.com.
– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia