Post Type:post Local Cable Advertisers Clamoring for College Football like Never Before! | Viamedia

It usually happens sometime around mid-August – at least here in the northeast. All of a sudden you’ll catch a glimpse of a maple or an oak with just a patch of color. And then you’ll notice a slight chill in the morning air and darkness descending just a little earlier with each passing week.

Where in the world did the summer go? (A question rarely, if ever, asked of the winter.)

But for those who have a certain dread of the approaching end of long days and warm summer nights, perhaps you’ll find (like myself) some solace in the fact that college football is right around the corner, and that by late August we’ll all be treated to a vast array of college games brought right into the comfort of our own home.

How vast an array?

Well, based on our analysis of Rentrak data for ESPN and ESPN2,  viewers had a choice of 176 live telecasts of college football during the 2013/2014 Season, which stretches from the very end of August right through the final college bowl games of early January. That’s ten more games than the very high number of live telecasts from the prior season – 166 in 2012/2013.

For those of a certain age, the football TV schedule used to be etched in bronze — college on Saturday; the pros on Sunday. Not anymore.  Last season college football aired on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and in total cable produced nearly 560 hours of live football – that’s  +6% more hours than year ago levels:

Source: Viamedia analysis of Rentrak TV Essentials Data (Telecast Summary Report—Top 500) for ESPN & ESPN2.

Source: Viamedia analysis of Rentrak TV Essentials Data (Telecast Summary Report—Top 500) for ESPN & ESPN2.

It’s anyone’s guess whether or not the American public’s appetite for college football will ever level off. But, for now, it sure seems like viewers just can’t get enough of the sport. How else to explain that, despite an increase in on-air content, HH ratings were up every month last season (with the exception of December):

Source: Viamedia analysis of Rentrak TV Essentials Data (Telecast Summary Report—Top 500)) for ESPN & ESPN2. Estimated HH ratings are based on a weight-average.

An Explosion in Advertiser Demand

More content attracting a greater number of viewers makes for an appealing audience for advertisers, and based upon what we have seen from our internal custom database, local advertisers nationwide are clamoring for an on-air presence in college football like never before!

Last season, over 700 Viamedia clients appeared on college football telecasts – that’s 9% more than the prior year (2012/13). And, not only did total spending levels increase by a whopping 22%, but the average amount spent per advertiser also rose smartly (+12%) And, perhaps most impressive of all, 41% of our 2012/13 advertisers returned for the next season – and they collectively upped their advertising investment over 25%!

Symptomatic of such growth is the sheer number of college football spots that we are now running through our traffic & billing system. This past season, Viamedia ran nearly 32,000 spots – 66% more than the prior football season. In all, these spots represent over 12,000 hours in local commercial time compared with ~7,000 hours for the prior college football season:

Source: Viamedia analysis of Sports & High Profile Tracker data for the period August through January (2012 – 2014).

Source: Viamedia analysis of Sports & High Profile Tracker data for the period August through January (2012 – 2014).

Not surprisingly, automotive is far and away the #1 local advertising category for collegiate football, and over the past two seasons, 13 out of the Top 20 Viamedia advertisers were either auto manufactures or local car dealerships /dealer associations. Collectively, they accounted for 20% of total local ad dollars:

10 out of Top 20 College Football Advertisers (Past 2 Seasons)

  1. Central Ohio Honda Dealers
  2. Dodge
  3. Dodge Ram
  4. Ed Morse Automotive
  5. Ford
  6. Greater Col. Ford Dealers Assoc.
  7. Honda
  8. Hyundai
  9. Jaguar
  10. Land Rover
  11. Lexus – Lexus Central Dealers
  12. Ricart Automotive
  13. Toyota

Rounding out the Top 5 advertising categories: Financial Services; Restaurants (Full and QSR); Retail/Department Stores and Attorneys / Professional Services.

Geographically, over 50 Viamedia markets (across 100+ cable sales zones) ran local cable spots on college football with a heavy concentration in the near-Midwest, where 4 of the Top 5 markets reside (Detroit, Columbus, Chicago and Evansville.) And it’s hardly a coincidence that the #1 sales zone (comprising 12% of all revenues over the past two seasons) is Columbus, Ohio – home of traditional Big Ten football powerhouse, the Ohio State Buckeyes. And, not surprisingly, the second and fourth largest sales zones (Macomb and Oakland) are in Michigan — home state to the Buckeyes biggest rival, the Michigan Wolverines.

By the time summer officially ends on September 22nd at 10:29pm (EST), the college football season will already be almost a month old! And from what we’re seeing from recent trends in Rentrak ratings, as well as our own internal sales records, college football will be heating up just as the late summer temperatures begin to fall.

– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia