College Football Soon More Popular Than MLB?

  • Posted On: June 28, 2017

A recent article in Advertising Age reports that many expect College football to soon exceed MLB in fan popularity, driven by the it’s-about-time college football playoff system starting with the 2014 season. Long known for its rabid fan base, pageantry, tradition, and alumni loyalty, College football continues to outpace MLB in the number of “avid” fans, ranking second at 24.2%, while MLB was third at 20.6% (the NFL was tops at 33.3%). The gap in “avids” has been widening, said Bill Hofheimer, an ESPN spokesman. In 2001, the two sports were almost even at 17.4% for college football and 17.0% for baseball.

Media pundits expect ad growth to explode with the arrival of the playoff system. Sharon Byers, VP-sports and entertainment for Coca-Cola, predicts the new college football playoff in 2014 will turn into a multimedia advertising showcase for Madison Avenue. “It will be better than the Super Bowl,” Ms. Byers told Advertising Age at the 2012 IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York last month.

But what of the fan’s in-venue experience? Tradition reigns as many of the largest stadiums still have bench seating and no or limited point of sale (POS) systems. The in-venue experience has historically given way to the out-of-venue pre and post-game tailgate experience. And according to this ESPN article, much of the spending on major renovation efforts is focused on many non-fan-facing areas.

We wonder, with the major focus on alumni contributions, how much more money could schools raise if they knew who was really sitting in an alumna’s seat, and if they had detailed transaction data about what each of those actual fans was spending when on campus? We’d love to hear what you think.

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