Otherwise known as no mid-major program can serve two masters…
Memphis is coming off its best five-year stretch in program history, which includes an AAC championship in 2014.
Success, however, hasn’t kept the program immune from attendance problems that have plagued college football. While NCAA attendance figures haven’t been released from 2018, attendance in 2017 had its largest drop in 34 years.
It’s something Bowen knows firsthand as a member of the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee. While he felt this season was a solid year attendance wise, he knows that Memphis and other schools are competing with fans who seek cheaper options to watch games and have more games to watch on television.
He added there have been discussions about bringing back pregame activities to add to the Tiger Walk and continuing to push fans to purchase season tickets. Bowen did not say what those activities would be.
“It’s critical for us to keep aggressively marketing, aggressively pushing forward, re-evaluating what worked and what didn’t work,” said Bowen, “We’re going to do some dynamic ticket pricing this season which we haven’t done in the past which we’ll announce soon.”
Declining attendance is another reason the AAC has pushed for a better media rights deal when the current one expires in 2020. Memphis president David Rudd is a part of the negotiations with AAC commissioner Mike Aresco, and the conference is in an exclusive negotiating window with ESPN, according to an interview Bowen did with Sports56 WHBQ on Monday
With seven of the 12 AAC schools reporting a decrease in attendance from the 2018 season, there’s hope that revenue from a new deal will easily exceed the $2 million each school is currently receiving.
“If you’re going to have a situation where you sell all your media rights, you need to be compensated in a way that it helps offset loss of ticket revenue, so that’s why our media deal is really important for the AAC because my colleagues are seeing the same thing,” Bowen said.
All the aggressive marketing in the world isn’t going to offset shitty start times that depress live crowd numbers imposed on you by your broadcast partner, dude. And you’ll have no choice but to become even more dependent on Mickey’s money as your attendance numbers continue to decline. That’s what constitutes tradition in today’s college football world.