I’m sure this will get spun as a sign of hope for college football’s future, but it’s hard to get excited about it.
Home attendance at major college football games declined for the fifth straight year, though the rate at which crowds decreased has slowed.
Football Bowl Subdivision attendance for home games averaged 43,288 fans per game, down less than 1 percent from 43,483 in 2014, according to a CBS Sports analysis of NCAA attendance data. Crowds declined by 4 percent in 2014.
This year may offer some hope of stabilization for the industry, which in recent years has seen fans stay home due to ticket prices, inconvenience and the comfort of watching on high-definition televisions.
Still, this year’s average was again the lowest since the FBS drew 42,631 per game in 2000. Attendance stayed below 46,000 for the seventh straight season since it peaked at 46,456 in 2008.
A lot has happened in the last fifteen years – conference realignment, massive television contracts and the attendant conference networks, scheduling more attuned to a broadcast audience, etc. – the gist of which has been to favor cash flow to athletic departments and to work against live attendance. I don’t see better Wifi and louder piped in music doing much to stop the bleeding.
Which leads to this depressing thought: at what point do schools say fuck it, and go all in on television? By that, I don’t mean they close the stadium gates, but rather, simply focus all their marketing decisions on what maximizes broadcast revenues. And, believe me, if you think that’s bad now, there’s a lot more they could do if they chose to.
As a kicker, when it happens, they’ll blame it on us for not supporting the sport the way it needed.