“I don’t think it’s totally crazy.”

Take as a starting premise that there are more bowl games than ever because we like to watch, not because we show up.  Add to that the profitability that comes from ESPN owning or controlling many bowl games outright.

If not for ESPN, many of these games might not exist. ESPN Events, a subsidiary of ESPN, owns and operates 11 bowl games, including two new ones this year.

All but one of the 39 postseason games this season will be broadcast by ESPN or ABC networks, both owned by The Walt Disney Co.

By owning the games, Charlotte-based ESPN Events can sell tickets and sponsorships to the games and not have to pay an unaffiliated company for TV broadcast rights. It’s an investment that usually pays off with a big live TV audience attractive to sponsors.

“We’ve built a very viable business that we’re really pleased with,” said Pete Derzis, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Events…

“They (ESPN) need live content, even mediocre live content,” Maestas told USA TODAY Sports. “Even 400,000 viewers in a sad bowl with 25,000 people in the stands is getting better (viewership) than 100 channels out there.”

Shake gently and voilà!

Sometime in the next several years, the powerful overlords of college football finally might decide they’ve seen enough.

To heck with ticket sales, they might say. Instead of struggling to draw crowds to stadiums, why not just stage some of their postseason bowl games in mammoth television studios?

Even a live studio audience would be optional. All they’d really need is a network to televise the games and sponsors to buy in.

Your idea of who “the powerful overlords of college football” are and USA Today’s may vary.  Here’s where I put my money:

“Fans are voting with their remotes and with their eyeballs,” said Ilan Ben-Hanan, ESPN’s vice president for programming and acquisitions. “I take issue with the notion of judging what’s a good idea based on how many people are in the stands. There are a lot of sports out there that would kill to have tens of thousands of people in the stands.”

It’s the coming reality.

… The average attendance for bowl games has declined each of the past six seasons, down to 49,116 last season, the lowest mark since 1978-79, when there were 15 bowls, according to the NCAA bowl record book.

At the same time, ticket sales generally have decreased in importance for bowl revenues. They accounted for $150 million – about 33% — of the $445 million in total gross receipts for all bowl games in 2012-13, according to the most recent available data on gross bowl receipts obtained by USA TODAY Sports. That percentage had decreased every year since 2008-09, when ticket sales comprised nearly 38% of all bowl revenue.

Television and media revenue, sponsorships and other sources make up the rest.

“More money in sports is starting to come from TV than from tickets,” Maestas said. “There was a day when the only thing that justified the game going on was ticket sales, because there was no TV. We are heading to the day when it’s possible to put on a college football event with no fans.”

Boy, that’s some progress you’ve got there, college football.

23 Comments

Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

23 responses to ““I don’t think it’s totally crazy.”

  1. TennesseeDawg

    For most schools, there won’t be any incentive to having a stadium with more than 50,000 seats. Some would be better off at 25,000. It has gotten too expensive for the average fan to go to a game anyway then throw in OOC scheduling of Sisters of the Poor and Southwest Northwestern State and you’ve got yourself the perfect storm for how not to encourage ticket sales

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  2. Gurkha Dawg

    It might not be some people’s idea of progress, but it’s the way things are and it ain’t going back.

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  3. AusDawg85

    …mammoth television studios…

    Isn’t that what taxpayer subsidized NFL stadiums already are?

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    • Mayor

      You raise an excellent point Aussie. The City of Atlanta is kicking in millions in tax dollars (and maybe the State of Georgia, too) to the Falcons for a new stadium when the one they have now is pretty damn good already. That is all about Arthur Blank getting into some sort of contest about whose penis is bigger with Jerry Jones. They’ll have a huge stadium and won’t be able to fill it. And the taxpayer paid for it.

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      • Macallanlover

        I am not a Jerry Jones fan by any means but Arthur Blank isn’t even in the conversation when it comes to NFL owners. Jones has a massive ego and some questionable morals that drag him down but he knows a little about the game of football. AB is closer to being another Daniel Snyder, or Hess family type owner.

        I hate it for the players to play in empty stadiums but have to agree that television (ESPN in this case) providing football is usually the best option for how to watch games. This trend cannot be blamed on over saturation of bowls, the declining regular season experience is contributing to the rush for the couches. When added to the increasing viewing options via TV, more and more fans will pull the plug on “live” game attendance, or reduce their commitment to attend in person by simply attending fewer games each season. While there is a monetary aspect to this decline, I think money is just the cherry on top; the “aggravation factors” and “give-ups” are the bigger issues to me.

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        • Chadwick

          Didn’t Jerry build that stadium with his own financing? Another NFL owner, Blank, hoodwinking another city. Taxpayers subsidies to the NFL. Sheesh. What a racket.

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          • Mayor

            Exactly. Now tell us all again how Blank is morally superior to Jerry Jones, Mac.

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            • Macallanlover

              You think I said that? From what I wrote? Get some glasses old timer. I don’t think Blank is superior to anyone, care nothing about him at all, but that doesn’t mean that Jerry Jones doesn’t have those two major weaknesses. That has nothing to do with AB.

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          • AusDawg85

            A minimum of $325 million in taxpayer money was used by Jerry…or he was going to move. The threat of all owners to leverage free money.

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        • Arthur Blank is a Bidness Man. He knows exactly what he is doing.

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          • Yeah. Ripping off the. Taxpayer. For his bidness.

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            • Mayor, My Mother was very close to Athur and Stephanie. When he bought the Falcons, my Mother warned him about what would happen to his Public Image. People like you would say nasty things about him and his business principles. You do not know anything about his Bidness.🏢

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  4. Baitstand

    Just one step closer to virtual reality and “college football events” with no actual live players. Then we can have that 128 team playoff.

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  5. “We are heading to the day when it’s possible to put on a college football event with no fans.”

    I would hate to be a player in that type of atmosphere, the only reason I liked playing football in HS was the cheer from the crowd. It was certainly not me enjoying the risk of concussion everytime I hit someone hard or got hit hard

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  6. It is funny to watch them over complicate why people don’t want to come to the game.

    It is expensive as hell.

    Parking is shit and is also expensive as hell.

    Why would anyone want to put up with that?

    It is all I can do to attend 1 or 2 games every few years.

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  7. RugbyDawg79

    nobody is talking about the elephant in the room–if you like to have a few drinks watching a Football game–there is zero chance of getting a DUI at home.

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  8. SouthGaDawg

    USA Today article on the same topic today:
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2014/12/25/college-football-bowl-games-attendance-bahamas-camellia-espn/20896969/
    I’ve never been one to want to go to a bowl game. I have been to the Peach Bowl twice – once with Ga vs UVa, once to see Clemson vs Auburn. The Ga Dome is a great bowl experience. I can’t really say that I would ever go to a Liberty Bowl or Duck Dynasty Bowl (I can’t believe I just typed that…). This time a year, I’m broke after Christmas and really just want to kick back in my recliner and watch from the toasty comfort of my own home, so I’m with the masses on this one. I will say it really doesn’t bother me in the least to watch the Bahamas Bowl with no one in the stands.

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  9. The number of crap bowls is also at an all time high. They’re so bad that I’m watching the Norf/Souf Curliner shrine bowl. Lol

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  10. JasonC

    The can just move the games to high school stadiums or lower-profile fields in the same areas and make them look more full.

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