“Filling the seats will be secondary.”

It’s amusing to read Dennis Dodd’s “deary me, what can they do about it?” take on college football’s ongoing morphing from an attendance sport to a broadcast sport – hell, we geniuses at the blog here have discussed that topic for a while now – but this part isn’t funny:

The playoff games themselves are guaranteed ratings and financial winners. As mentioned, the four-team playoff has been priced at $500 million per season. Would an eight-team playoff be worth $1 billion? That’s where industry analyst say the game may reach the law of diminishing returns.

“How do you make it any bigger than it is?” Hollis said.

Finding the sweet spot where you grow the postseason just to the point where it doesn’t interfere with the value of the regular season – that’s the real trick for guys like Slive and Delany, isn’t it?  Is there anything in Dodd’s article that makes you think they’re smart enough to calibrate things that finely?  Remember, these are the same people who’ve led the way to college basketball’s regular season going in the crapper from a relevance standpoint and found that they’ve hit the ceiling on the size of the tourney field because TV won’t pay for more.

It sounds like they’ve hit the ceiling, period.

His “Four on the Floor” concept to open the 2013-14 college basketball season was scuttled in December. The logistics had been worked out — four games staggered 15 minutes part on the floor of Cowboys Stadium to replicate the NCAA tournament — but TV was the problem. Four separate networks to do the games could not be found.

I’m sure they’ll do better this time around.  At least I’m sure that’s what they’re telling themselves.

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12 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

12 responses to ““Filling the seats will be secondary.”

  1. Go Dawgs!

    The trickiest part about calibrating this playoff’s relationship to the regular season is that contraction isn’t an option. It can only grow, they’ll never be able to shrink it if it becomes too big. It’s just like baseball. I read a great article earlier in the week stating that that best thing baseball could do is to go back to 152 games or so for the regular season so they could expand the wild card round of the playoffs to three games or get the World Series done before November. They’ll never do it, though, because that’s 5 home gates a year that the team would have to forego.

  2. WarD Eagle

    I think we’re blaming the wrong people here. It isn’t Slive and Delaney that are getting this money. It’s the ADs and Presidents.

    We’ve lost sight of the mission of the university. It wasn’t supposed to be an excuse for running a gigantic tax exempt athletic department.

    • 81Dog

      I agree completely, WarD. The conference heads do what the guys who hired them tell them to do, and the guys who hired them are guys like Mike Adams. Today’s money grubbing college president never saw a camera he didn’t want focused on him, or an aspect of the athletic department he didn’t want to turn into a “profit center.”

      as long as the robber barons with checkbooks are happy with the work of Mike Adams and his ilk, the only question that will be asked is “how much more can we squeeze out of everyone?” Nobody will be asking the question “is this really something consistent with the mission of the university?”

  3. Irwin R Fletcher

    There is absolutely no correlation between the tournament and regular season ratings in college basketball. You should stop stating it as a fact.

    Fact is…the tournament expanded from 40 to 64 prior to the peak of regular season college basketball relevance in the 80′s and 90s. The bigger issue is the product. To use a phrase the Head Hog made famous during the height of MCBB, ‘It’s the product, stupid.” (not that you are stupid.)

    Go back to 1990-91 if you are old enough. UNLV’s attempt to run the table and repeat was compelling and interesting television. The regular season game between UNLV and Arkansas drew huge numbers. The regular season had must see television in ACC conference play. Georgia vs. LSU during the 89-90 season was a huge game. Why? Because you had teams with players that you knew. You had more teams with better players. The talent was better. The product was unbelievably good. UNLV had upperclassmen that were amazing players that people knew. LSU had Chris Jackson, Stanley Roberts along with a sensational freshman in Shaquile Oneal…but it wasn’t a one year thing. Shaq stayed at LSU for 3 seasons. Three seasons! Tell me you wouldn’t be more interested in watching UK vs. UF if Anthony Davis, MKG, Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb, and company were running the floor against a Duke team that had Kyrie Irving running the point. That was a real thing in the 1980s and 90s. Now you have teams like Kentucky that all you can recognize is the jersey each year.

    Here’s the kicker…if the tournament was ‘destroying the integrity of the regular season’, wouldn’t you assume that the tournament would be doing better or just as good as it did 20 years ago? Of course, it isn’t. The finals in 2009 drew 17.6 Million viewers….just about half the number who watched Duke vs. Michigan in 1992 (34 Million). It’s so easy to see….the final game only dropped below 29M viewers once from 1975 to 1994. Since 1995, the final game hasn’t broken 27.5M viewers and reached a low of 17M in 2004. (h/t GA Tech)

    Wring your hands over the death of the regular season if you wish…but it’s mostly Chicken Little until the NFL (or a competitive minor league) starts opening its doors for underclassmen to bolt college early…

    • Irwin R Fletcher

      A couple of caveats that I would change if I could modify.

      First, that was waaaay more argumentative than I meant for it to be.
      Second, I’m not really addressing the difference b/w popularity of the game and popularity of going to the game. Those are different issues entirely.
      Third, I should have at least said that there is a possibility that an expanded playoff could damage the regular season in football…but my point is that we shouldn’t use basketball as a benchmark for that thesis. It’s not comparable.

    • hassan

      I look at it at a personal level since I consider myself an average to slightly above average sports fan (my rabid CFB interest pulls me up to the overall above average category).

      Simply put, I watch as many CFB (non-UGA) games as I can because I know that one slip up or upset changes the entire national landscape. Conversely, I watch only big marquee basket ball games because in the grand scheme of things, a few losses here or there make little to no difference. All a team has to do is be just good enough to make the tournament. So I watch the bare minimum to keep up until March.

      • Irwin R Fletcher

        So…if the college basketball season was only 10 games long, you would watch as much as you do football? Probably not. Plus, the NFL’s regular season hasn’t lost popularity.

        I just don’t think it is a sample size or relevance problem in MBB. It’s a talent/product issue. The same reason lower level football isn’t televised despite the small sample size of games in the regular season…it isn’t a good product.

        At a certain point, we have to acknowledge that the difference between spectator sports and non-spectator sports isn’t the number of games or the post-season format…it’s the talent level of the participants.

        • hassan

          If the MBB season was only 10 games long and 1 or 2 losses put you out of contention, then yes I would watch all 10 of as many teams as I could. That’s basically what happens in March. People watch all the games because it’s do or die.

          The MBB regular season is not do or die, so there is no compelling reason to watch every game. I still keep up through the news media, but I am not clearing my schedule to watch it. The regular season of football on the other hand is do or die every single game. That’s why I clear my schedule and watch all I can.

          If MBB reduced the number of teams in the tournament and put more emphasis on the regular season performance, then I would be more interested in what happens before March.

          • Irwin R Fletcher

            People do not watch the games in March because it is ‘do or die.’ Certainly, the one-and-done aspect is exciting and adds a certain dimension, but there are literally thousands of tournaments all over the country at every level of the sport that people could give a rat’s fart about involving kids with a lot more skin in the game than the current class of freshmen at Kentucky.

            There is a difference in what we are talking about…you are talking about the condition it would take for you to be a die-hard MBB fan. I’m talking about the sport being popular.

            Of course, having read Mark Bradley today and seeing that he basically is parroting my comments from last week…I take back everything I said. Clearly there is a major flaw in my thought process that I am not seeing.

            http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/mark-bradley/2013/jan/28/college-hoops-great-sport-has-gone-sour/

    • Alkaline

      I read an article yesterday (can’t remember the site, maybe SI or CBS) that also mentioned that UNLV team in a similar light. The writer’s point was the the level of NCAAB play has suffered since ’95 when the NBA started consistently drafting underclassmen (and previously high-schoolers). The article dealt mostly with the fact that an undefeated season is basically impossbile in NCAAB now since players don’t stick around, and I don’t doubt that the drop in fan interest is related to that loss of the undefeated-intrigue and the lack of familiar players to root for.

    • cube

      I agree 100% Irwin. Excellent points.

  4. Chopdawg

    College basketball’s regular season’s only in the crapper around here.