In the swirling conversation about college football reorganization, many claims have been made. Drawing conclusions can be ambiguous due to the many factors driving reorganization. Some fan assumptions are off track in terms of the value of the various programs.
It’s helpful to understand that as long as money drives decisions – it does and will continue to do so – programs are best measured by their entertainment value. Like money, the value of entertainment is measured in numbers.
The debate about which software has the best brands can confuse you. The most accurate is the most accurate measurement of the eyeballs in each program. New data from market research firm SBRnet measured fans for each Power Five team, as well as Notre Dame. The account was based on fans who watched or attended a match in 2021.
The data shows that 103 million people were fans of 65 teams in 2021. Ohio State had the most fans at 6.3 million. Alabama ranked second with over 4.1 million. Thirty-one Power Five (including Notre Dame) has exceeded one million fans.
The data is interesting on many levels, including the breakdown of numbers by generations, from Generation Z fans to Boomers. Alabama had the highest number of Generation Z. Ohio had a major lead among baby boomers.
No explanation is available for the methodology used. There are surprising numbers for certain software, but for the purpose of an exhaustive discussion, the data appears to be reliable.
Data and reorganization of the college football conference
The list below is every show, by conference, with over a million fans.
- ACC – FSU, 2.7 m; Duke, 2.6 AD; UNC, 1.9 m; Boston College, 1.5 million; Georgia Tech, 1.4 million; Clemson 1.5m and Miami 1.1m
- big 12 – Texas 3.1 million; Oklahoma, 1.7 million; KS, 1M
- big ten – Ohio, 6.3 million; Pennsylvania, 4 AD; Michigan State, 2.9 million; Michigan, 2.9 million; Illinois, 1.7 million; Wisconsin, 1.6 million; Minnesota, 1.4 million; Iowa, 1.3 million; Nebraska, 1.2 million
- Buck 12 – University of California, Los Angeles, 2.7 m; Arizona, 1.5 million; USC, 1.5 m
- SEC – Alabama, 4.1 m; Georgia, 2.8 million; LSU, 2.3 m; Florida, 2.1 million; Auburn, 2 m; Texas A&M, 2 p.m.; Kentucky, 1.5 million; TN 1.3 m; Missouri, 1.1 million; Arkansas, 1.1 million
- our lady – 3.5 m
Admittedly, there are some pretty scratchy numbers. Additionally, an average of three to five seasons will be more important than just the 2021 numbers (although 2020 will skew the numbers due to the wide range in the number of games played).
What the data does provide is additional insight into why Pac 12 and Big 12 are under such duress. Their media deals will suffer greatly from the future loss of University of California, USC, Texas, and Oklahoma.