The price you pay your broadcast partner

This is not a pretty picture.

Screenshot_2020-03-11 College football must innovate as FBS attendance dips for sixth straight year to lowest since 1996

As you can imagine, there is a lot of flopping around concerning solutions to stem the decline, most of them tired, like better wi-fi.  There are also duh suggestions, like winning and beefing up home schedules (great, if you’re a P5 athletic director who can cut deals with your peers; not so great if you’re working at, say, a MAC school).

One big problem is structural.

TV ratings continue to soar because it is increasingly easier to stay home. College football is the nation’s second-most popular sport. But its attractiveness as a live event is slipping.

Mickey’s money is so good, it reduces the pressure on schools to find a long term attendance fix.

Speaking of ESPN, here’s the other problem:

We already know the attendance drop has reached the highest level. The seven games run by the College Football Playoff posted a record low in cumulative attendance following the 2019 season. That marked the halfway point of the 12-year CFP contract with ESPN.

Not to mention, the CFP has contributed to making it a playoff-or-bust discussion in the country. Check those Tuesday nights in November when ESPN has made appointment viewing out of the weekly CFP Rankings.

“If you watch college football in this day and age, the only teams people are talking about is the six teams that can make the College Football Playoff,” Dykes said. “If you’re not one of those six teams, you lose interest in your team a little bit.”

That’s the price you pay for letting a network nationalize the appeal of your product.  Wi-fi won’t do a damned thing about that.

43 Comments

Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

43 responses to “The price you pay your broadcast partner

  1. May be a bit pollyannish, but I wonder if allowing kids to market themselves may serve as a community outreach of sorts, driving stronger connections players in the local market and driving up attendance a little bit. If I could go to a autograph signing of a UGA player around the corner at local dealership, I might me inclined to go see him live at a game. Or maybe not. Who the hell knows. Maybe its more wifi.

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    • OTOH, if the NCAA is forced into an NLI agreement with players, the current scope of national television exposure will certainly increase the earning potential for members of highly ranked teams. How long will it take American express to re-create the “Major League” add with the number 8 seed in the expanded playoff? Or the CWS, or a Cinderella march madness contender?

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  2. HD

    Huge issue that isn’t often discussed is not announcing the kickoff time until 14 or even 7 days before a game. Makes it tough for people planning to attend. NFL times you typically know before the season so its much easier to plan months in advance

    Liked by 2 people

  3. GruvenDawg

    The NFL doesn’t have problems selling out smaller stadiums. Nowadays NFL stadiums have functional clean bathrooms, great food, and comfortable seats even for the general seating areas. That’s the model the P5 schools will need to move towards as attendance continues to drop.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mayor

    I’m now convinced the whole playoff thing was a bad idea—even the BCS. In the old days when it was a beauty pageant at the end a lot more teams were still involved and the bowls were still relevant. Now……..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Macallanlover

      Bull, bowls were once rewards that were earned, now they are handed out to anyone with a pulse. Playoffs are too restricted and disenfranchise entire conferences denying them representation

      Expand to 8 ASAP, cut the number of bowls to make them meaningful, and develop plans to reduce stadium size because attendance isn’t coming back. In the meantime, develop ticket programs to donate excess tickets to youth groups, or students, to fill the stadium seats. 30,000 empty seats is a bad look on TV and demeans the product.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mp

        I don’t get the complaints about the number of bowls. People watch them. (I certainly watch some, not all.)

        But, the existence of the Bahamas Bowl in mid-December does not have any impact on how meaningful the Peach Bowl is when it doesn’t host the CFP. People don’t care about that bowl when it’s #6 vs. #7 because the constant, unending focus on the CFP all season long tells us the bowls don’t matter. I don’t see how you can salvage the bowls when you have made them even less meaningful by expanding the playoffs.

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  5. spur21

    HD – Gruven & Mayor hit the nail squarely on the head. I can only add traffic – getting to the stadium and lack of first class tailgating locations. Seems BM figures fans are just an after thought and they will put up with shit facilities forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. W Cobb Dawg

    It’s an example of how perverted the whole attendance situation has become. Schools literally have thousands of students available to attend, each of whom pay mandatory athletic fees. But the schools want to squeeze the kids for every last drop, so thousands of seats are empty rather than let a student in free.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. TN Dawg

    It also costs too much for a working Joe to take his wife and kids to the game.

    There isn’t $500-600 worth of joy in the 4 hours.

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  8. RangerRuss

    Will Mickey make regular games Pay Per View ? Playoffs? I wouldn’t put it past them or the athletic departments

    Liked by 1 person

    • mwo

      With the ESPN+ and SEC+ platforms you could argue they are already pay per view. Not as an event but in the package or service you have to buy to get said games. CBS losing the Saturday game at 1530 is really going to suck.

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    • spur21

      If they do I will move on to another form of entertainment

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    • I think that would be the thing that pops the bubble of money CFB sits on. I’m with Spur.

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  9. PTC DAWG

    Mentioned above, the stadiums are too damned big, and many times the too damned big stadium is based on the footprint of a much smaller stadium…ie the facilities are stressed big time. See Sanford. Others in the SEC are about the same regarding facilities. I have been in every arena other than Gainesville, ARK and College Station..

    ALL games hit the airwaves..folks have options.

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  10. MGW

    Lets see here…. it’s way, way more expensive to go to games in person now, it’s way, way more convenient to stay home than it ever was before, home schedules are far weaker than they used to be, and the tailgating and in game experiences (excluding the actual quality of the game on the field) have been brutally downgraded to the point where you have to watch more commercials in the stadium than if you watched TV (ain’t no mute button for the jumbo-tron and you damn sure can’t flip to the next best game during timeouts).

    And no, wi-fi isn’t the culprit at all, but in the year 2020, yes everyone in your stadium should be able to follow other games going on that day by using their cell phones without any issues with coverage… or text friends or watch cat videos or whatever the hell they want to do other than stare at your god damn Ford commercial. As in wi-fi isn’t some “distracted millennial” complaint that keeps people at home, it’s just what a non-piece-of-shit stadium, that functions how a stadium should in this day and age, should have…. sort of like functioning bathrooms.

    tldr: It just ain’t a real good value right now.

    To say nothing of the fact that about 95% of all teams have literally nothing meaningful to play for except rivalries, about half of which have been tossed in the trash through realignment. Here’s your reminder that Mizzou is in the SEC, and Nebraska is in a conference with Rutgers but not with OU or Texas. Oh, and remember when they tried to force Army/Navy to give up their dedicated game day? That was fun.

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    • Tony Barnfart

      So true on the WiFi. It’s not that young people demand social media in the game…..it’s that when we’re beating Murray State 45-0, it would be nice to take a peek at bigger / closer games while staying in my seat, in the stadium. WiFi get the dude with multiple TVs in his house, who likes to monitor multiple games simultaneously, back in the stadium…at least somewhat.

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      • PTC DAWG

        First off, when I attend a game, phone is left in my ride. I hate carrying that thing around for work etc..much less when I’m on my own time.

        Secondly, do people not have data plans on their phones? People actually use public WiFi? I access anything I want anytime I want, on my own dime.

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        • MGW

          First off, you’re one of probably less than 10 people who do that.

          Second, 90k+ cell phones (minus you and 9 other people) in one place means they all get spotty reception (phone and data) because the towers serving that area aren’t designed for that many people, because 358 days a year there are 90k fewer people connecting to the tower. Hence the need for wi-fi to serve game day crowds. There aren’t just a ton of people in the stadium who set up shop at Starbucks for the free internet whenever they’re not at Sanford Stadium. It’s a matter of bandwidth.

          And nobody has ever stayed at home because of the lack of WiFi any more than they have because the lines for concessions are long or the bathrooms are gross. It’s just something the stadium should have at this point to remove a tremendous pain in the ass from the game day experience. The combination of all of these very obvious things and others, however, make it a whole lot more attractive to stay at home when, aside from the Auburn game, you’re putting up with all that stuff for a totally bland home slate.

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        • Tony Barnfart

          You can not stream via 4G or whatever with so many other phones around. You need the facility you are at to have the infrastructure system of basically a bunch of little antennas everywhere that basically breaks up the “pull demand”. On 4G it’s everybody fighting over the same bandwidth. Not everything is some millennial conspiracy scheme to fleece on the public dime.

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  11. JCDawg83

    There are a number of factors at work in the declining attendance figures in my opinion.
    1. Cost, the mandatory “donations” required to get season tickets, the increased cost of tickets, travel, food, beverage and parking all add up to a substantial sum. Fans who are not seriously dedicated are not seeing the value in attending a college game. Younger fans especially don’t see the value in shelling out a couple thousand dollars every year for tickets to games that are not interesting, at inconvenient times and tie up a complete Saturday if not a complete weekend.
    2. Terrible matchups – most people don’t want to spend their Saturday watching their team play a cupcake in a game where the outcome is known before kickoff and the only question is what the total points scored will be.
    3. Bad kickoff times – Sure, the atmosphere of a big game at night is exciting and can add to the experience but outside of the students and people who live in the immediate area of the school, travel considerations make night games problematic. Alternatively, noon kickoffs, forced on the teams by television, destroy the atmosphere of the game because fans have to leave home and arrive on campus so early. Also; as mentioned above, not knowing the kickoff time until 7 or 14 days in advance does not allow for long term scheduling.
    4. Television – TV is probably the ultimate problem in declining attendance. Every game being televised takes away the need to attend the game in order to see it but I don’t think that is the biggest problem with TV. TV timeouts while attending the game are maddening and unnecessarily interrupt the flow of the game. There is no reason television could not broadcast the game with commercial breaks added to the TV broadcast but not stop the game and let the broadcast end 30 minutes after the actual end of the game. People with DVRs routinely start watching 30 minutes after kickoff so they can fast forward through commercials. TV dictates kickoff times with no consideration of how kickoff time affects actual attendance. I cannot imagine being an SEC West fan and having 11:00 am kickoffs. ESPN’s drive to make college football a national sport is destroying what made college football so appealing to most fans, its regional appeal. When the talking heads are only talking about 5 to 10 teams and yours isn’t one of them, it is pretty easy for interest to wane.
    5. Replay – The way replay is set up now, it destroys the flow of the game. Being in the stadium and having to sit and wait for several minutes to find out if the exciting play you cheered for moments ago is actually going to be allowed to stand is horrible. I think the replay rules should be changed to where each coach has two challenges per half. He can use them for any reason he wants with no penalty if his challenge is not upheld. They do not carry over and once they are used, they are gone regardless of the outcome of the challenge. If up to 8 plays per game being reviewed and reversed is not enough, some referees need to fired.

    Right now, the TV money is big enough that the schools and the networks aren’t too worried. The problem is; once the fans’ desire to attend games declines enough, their desire to watch the games at all will decline.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Russ

    I believe it’s already dead. We’re just watching the body cool.

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    • MGW

      Maybe it’ll survive. But that’s not any concern of our “broadcast partners” (current owners). The goal is to squeeze as much cash out as possible while they have the contract. If its still worth another contract after that, they’ll go for it. If not, that’s fine too. Frankly if football dies, it’ll be much easier to market soccer which is a far bigger global market.

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  13. Tony Barnfart

    You think McGarity is watching these euro soccer games in empty stadiums and salivating at the cost savings ?

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  14. CB

    Let’s see what happens with the coronavirus in 2020 regarding attendance. I’m not so much concerned for my health as I am the pretty serious inconveniences we might start to experience as a result of not having a vaccine or a properly funded CDC.

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    • JCDawg83

      I’m curious as to what a “properly funded” CDC would/could do differently? $6.5 billion seems like a pretty good chunk of money to me.

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      • CB

        Is that a serious question or a parody of a blind Trump supporter? For obvious starters being prepared to handle the problem from the get go as opposed to scrambling to throw solutions together on the fly.

        Same as hiring a new football coach in December as opposed to August.

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    • spur21

      CDC is properly funded. Trump cut mostly fat from the system and not the research or science side. CDC is one of the most bloated agencies we have. I have a friend that is a “Communication Administrator” she spends her time communicating with other “Communication Administrators” all while drawing well over $100K plus outrageous benefits and works from home 2 or 3 days a week.

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      • CB

        Sounds like you’ve got it all figured out. I mean you have a friend after all.

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      • CB

        “$102 million cut to emerging and zoonotic diseases” precisely what COVID-19 is.

        http://thenationshealth.aphapublications.org/content/49/3/1.2

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      • CB

        Sounds like your friend and all the other communications administrators are still employed while the jobs of actual scientists were cut. Meaning the fat is what remains.

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        • JCDawg83

          Bureaucrats never go away, their jobs are “essential”. I don’t really see how CDC would have developed a vaccine for a disease that didn’t exist until a few months ago. I thought the term “novel” virus meant it was new and previously unknown, maybe I’m wrong. Even test kits can’t be created until the virus is identified so more money wouldn’t have helped there.

          I hope the CDC already knows what action plan to take in the event of an epidemic of some kind. Of course, I’m not sure 1200 cases in the entire US really counts as an epidemic. I don’t see where even tripling the CDC budget would have made any difference in how they would have handled this up to now. In fact, increasing their budget would most likely result in the hiring of more administrators instead of hiring many more scientists.

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  15. 69Dawg

    One of the problems that is not in the colleges control as far as attendance is concerned is the demographics of the current and future contributors. My son a 2001 graduate got a break on his original season tickets. As soon as he had to start paying the Hartman Fund annual fee he stopped buying and sat with the family again. Problem is I am 72 and live in Florida about 500 miles from Athens so I gave up my tickets a couple of years ago. My son is perfectly happy to sleep in on Saturday and watch the Dawgs on TV. The best things I’ve heard suggested today was why not give the students the returned visiting tickets? Maybe even the students aren’t that interested anymore. Georgia and Alabama have top 3 teams and we are having trouble filling the stadium, if that isn’t the canary in the coal mine what is.

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    • JCDawg83

      My daughter graduated in 2014 and neither she nor any of her friends get season tickets. They all say the cost is too high for what they would get. They really don’t care at all about going to noon kickoffs, watching the cupcake games or spending big money on staying in Athens for the night games. They usually pick a game or two each season, buy tickets on Stubhub and do a big tailgate where everyone meets.

      None of my friends kids who graduated from Georgia get season tickets either. All of these kids love Georgia and are big fans but they don’t see the value in buying season tickets and I can’t really argue with them.

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      • Tony Barnfart

        I wonder who is going to eventually buy up all these season ticket packages ? Or are they just going to slowly suppress the supply side by reducing seats and offloading tickets straight to stubhub itself as a hedge(which I think in some cases stubhub actually owns the tickets they sell. Maybe im wrong.)

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  16. Milledge Hall

    Ever gone to Athens for a football weekend and spent the night (2 nights)?
    A thousand dollar weekend for sure.
    Even decent air b and b is expensive.
    In the old days, UGA football games began at 2 PM.
    South GA folk could leave home, drive to the game, tailgate, watch the game, and drive home in the same day.
    No longer true.
    May go to a game once every 2 years, with the key word MAY.

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  17. The stat that shows in some cases a big South Georgia high school game may attract as many fans as Friday MACtion.

    Certainly, the 7A state championship game draws as many if not more than many Group of 5 regular season games.

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