THE ISSUE: Popularity of college football
OUR VIEW: Fans count on newspapers as top source of information
March Madness is in full swing. The Miami Heat of the NBA are making a run at a record winning streak. Tiger Woods is back on top of the golf world. College baseball in South Carolina is huge with the recent history of the South Carolina Gamecocks. BUT, no one here wonders why it is football, and college football in particular, that is still making headlines.
Spring football practice is in full swing at South Carolina, Clemson and South Carolina State. Pro Day tryouts at Carolina and S.C. State were held on Wednesday. Our print and online readers are hungry for coverage.
The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame are showcasing three impressive facts from the 2012 college football season that emphasize the strong interest in the sport by millions of fans across the country, including:
* Exceptional attendance figures: The sport produced the third-highest attendance figure ever with 48.96 million fans attending a game, including 1.7 million spectators for the bowl games.
* Outstanding television viewership: More than 216 million viewers tuned in to watch the regular season with another 126 million watching the bowl games.
* Powerful bowl ratings: The Discover BCS National Championship Game on ESPN between Alabama and Notre Dame produced the second most-viewed program in cable television history with 26.4 million viewers, only behind the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. The five BCS bowl games averaged 15.1 million viewers up 7 percent from 2011.
“In every instance, whether it’s the regular or the bowl season, the numbers for college football show strong interest,” NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell said. “College football fans have an unmatched passion for their sport, and the options for them to connect with their teams have never been greater. We are grateful to the conferences, bowl games and the media for their creativity and commitment in delivering a first-class product that allows fans to experience the game in every imaginable way.”
College football counts 103 million adults as fans — or 44 percent of all U.S. adults. Among adult college football fans, 61 percent are male and 39 percent female. Twelve percent are between the ages 18-24, 18 percent are 25-34, 19 percent are 35-44, 20 percent are 45-54, 16 percent are 55-64 and 16 percent are age 65 or over. Sixty-one percent have an annual household income of $50,000 or more, with 42 percent at $75,000 or more, and 25 percent at $100,000 or more.
In the South, we brag about the quality of our college football, and with good reason. From recruiting to practicing, from club meetings to spring games, the season never ends. No time is bigger than gameday in the fall.
And while we’re bragging, we can’t help but point out another No. 1 when it comes to football — and other sports.
A recent Sports Media Consumption Survey found that newspapers are the top sports source for male sports fans.
Among male sports fans ages 18-54:
* 76 percent cited the sports section of their local newspaper website as one of their “go to” sources for sports news.
* 69 percent cited the local newspaper as one of their “go to” sources for sports news.
Among not-regular newspaper readers:
* 75 percent cited newspaper websites as a go-to source for sports news.
Among regular newspaper readers:
* 72 percent said sports content from newspapers was superior to any other source.
* 62 percent said they get news and analysis in newspapers that they can’t find anywhere else.
* 41 percent said they considered purchasing an advertised product or service and 19 percent said they actually purchased the product or service.
Television remains huge for showing the games, whether it’s March Madness or fall’s version of college football madness every weekend. But following college football and sports is about more than watching games. Fans are hungry for the inside stories and details. Many places offer news, but newspapers, as they do with local news in print and online, are the reliable source for the majority.
To use the Sports Media Consumption Survey terminology. We are “go to” and plan to continue being just that.