I think my physics professor took it pretty easy on me when he handed out final grades. Truth be told I was light years behind the stellar students in his class, but I did learn something about the geometric expansion of space after the Big Bang, which has fascinated physicists, theologians and the general public alike. Was it a random, geophysical event; the vast, eternal plan of our Creator; or something else altogether?
No one knows for certain, but when it comes to the expansion of college football bowl games, there is one – and only one – cosmic explanation: ESPN, which this season will telecast 33 bowl games (plus 2 more on ESPN2), including all seven of the final bowl games including the National Championship Game:
In terms of audience performance, live sporting events in general have fared well in the face of declining television HUT levels, and the College Bowl Games are no exception. Last bowl season (2014-15), ESPN delivered a solid 3.6 U.S. household rating (good for a 6.8 share), and although the rating was the same as the prior year (2013-14), that is a little deceptive since ESPN covered five additional bowl games in 2014-15. If we compare only those 22 bowl games in common over the past two seasons, ESPN’s average ratings and shares are both up +8%:
This upcoming bowl season represents the second year of the current college football playoff format in which the top four ranked teams in the nation (i.e., after the final regular season game) vie to be crowned the National College Football Champion. (This season it comes down to Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State and Oklahoma.) As you can imagine, there is always some controversy swirling around rankings of any sort (which has become a sport unto itself), but there was never a doubt that the playoff bowl games would generate tremendous fan interest. Last year’s games all achieved double-digit ratings and shares, with the National Championship Game between the Buckeyes of Ohio State and the Oregon Ducks generating a 16.5 U.S. Household rating (24 Share):
The Highest Cable Rated Program… EVER!
Whether it was due to the new playoff format, or the team match ups (or maybe a combination of the two), last season’s National Championship Bowl Game not only set a cable ratings bowl game record… it was also the highest rated cable program ever:
The Ohio Players
We’ve noted in several past sports-oriented blogs that national cable ratings are just the tip of the iceberg, and that local market viewership goes through the roof when home teams are involved in national telecasts. The Top 5 highest rated DMAs for last year’s record-breaking National Championship Game are all located in the state of Ohio – hardly a coincidence with Ohio State being one of the participating teams:
Big Numbers and High Income & Education
College Football Bowl Games on ESPN pack a double punch – a large, highly engaged audience that also happens to be very upscale and highly educated. As can be seen in the chart below, the HH ratings rises (in almost a straight line) with income, with homes over $250,000+ income pulling down a rating 50% higher than the U.S. average household rating (6.8 v 4.6.) And homes with at least a college degree watched at a 10% greater rate:
Local Cable Advertising Demand
Local cable advertising demand for College Football Bowl games has been spectacular. Last bowl season (2014/15), over 1,000 Viamedia clients ordered nearly 15,000 30-second units across 85% of our national footprint (64 markets and 145 individual advertising zones.) That comes to about 14.5 spots per client. Source: Viamedia internal analysis of B.I.G.SM database (Sports & High Profile Tracker module). Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
In comparing advertising demand versus year ago levels, we confined our analysis to the 48 markets that exhibited advertising in both bowl years, as well as holding constant the exact same bowl games. In doing so, we found a very healthy 59% increase in ad investments, driven by both a surge in the number of 30-second spots and higher unit rates:
1) 20% rise in the number of 30-second units;
2) 33% rise in unit pricing;
3) 6% rise due to the multiplicative effect of units sold and pricing.
Source: Viamedia internal analysis of B.I.G.SM database (Sports & High Profile Tracker module) across 48 markets that exhibited local cable advertising on the exact same College Football Bowl Games over the past two seasons (2013/14 & 2014/15.) Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
In terms of local cable advertising categories, football (any football, collegiate or professional) is a magnet for automotive dollars. Over the past two seasons, literally hundreds of local automotive dealers and manufacturers ordered well over 15,000 spots in college football bowl games. In all, the Automotive Category represents 55% of all advertising investments:
December 19th Start
The 2015-16 college football bowl season gets underway December 19th with five bowl games, and then runs its course over the next 24 days, culminating in the supernova of all bowl games, the “College Football Playoff National Championship” in Glendale, Arizona. Between all of the “minor” bowls; the “major” bowls; and the final 4 playoff bowls, there will surely be enough games to satisfy the most ardent college football fans across the nation.
For more information on Viamedia, visit www.viamediatv.com.
– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia