College Football attendance remain strong

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, June 24th, 2016

College Football
By National Football Foundation

2015 Report: College Football Ratings and Attendance Remain Strong

The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame
highlighted multiple impressive facts from the 2015 college football
season that emphasize the strong popularity of college football among
millions of fans across the country.
“The already intense interest in college football continues to
grow,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell.
“Embracing ever changing technology, the leaders of our sport have
done a spectacular job in ensuring that the fan experience not only
keeps pace but sets the standard in innovation. 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.”

The top highlights include:

Digital Era Continues to Grow:
The 2015 college football season continued the increasing trend
of fans watching games through means other than just their
televisions. ESPN’s streaming service, WatchESPN, saw per game
increases of 54 percent in average minute impressions, 38 percent in
total unique viewers and 53 percent in total minutes viewed. Factoring
in both the regular season and bowl season, seven of the top 10
most-streamed college football games ever occurred during the 2015
season and all 10 have occurred since January 2015.
The second CFP National Championship, presented on multiple streams
through the ESPN Megacast, ranked as the best game ever on WatchESPN
across all major metrics, excluding the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The game experienced increases of 23 percent in average minute
impressions, 38 percent in unique viewers and 32 percent in total
minutes compared to last year’s inaugural game.

Major Networks See Steady Growth in Viewership:
CBS averaged a 3.4 rating for SEC football this season, making
it the highest rated regular-season college football package on any
network for the seventh consecutive year. CBS scored the season’s
highest-rated and most-watched college football game with the SEC
Championship on Dec. 5, and its coverage of the 116th Army-Navy Game
was the highest rated and most-watched game between the rivals since
1999 and 1994, respectively.
ESPN-rated networks (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNEWS)
averaged 1,852,000 viewers for the 270 games televised in the 2015
college football regular season, a rise of 4 percent in viewership
compared to 2014 regular season. ESPN alone averaged 2,721,000 viewers
for the 74 games the network aired, marking the fourth consecutive
year viewership has increased.
The top five cable TV audiences of all time are all college
football postseason games.
Heading into conference championship week, ABC Saturday Night
Football was the most-watched series in all of college football,
across all networks, averaging 5,340,000 viewers.
College football games on FOX were up 19 percent in rating and
up 15 percent in viewership in 2015.
This season, FOX saw its highest-rated and most-watched regular
season game ever, with Stanford’s win over Notre Dame on Nov. 28,
which posted a 4.3/11 with more than 7.3 million viewers.
NCAA Programs Attract More than 49 Million / SEC Sets Attendance Record:
The SEC set an all-time record across all conferences with
7,784,376 fans in 2015, leading all FBS conferences in average
attendance for the 18th consecutive year with 78,630 fans per game.
The 666 NCAA football programs drew 49,057,966 fans at home games,
neutral-site games and postseason games in 2015. The numbers symbolize
a phenomenal increase of 156 percent from the 19,134,159 fans that the
NCAA reported when they first started collecting attendance figures in
1948*. The American Athletic Conference, Big Ten and the Sun Belt all
set single-season conference attendance records.
The 41 bowl games this season (including the CFP National
Championship) attracted 1,796,498 spectators to the stands (43,817 per
contest), and 15 bowl games had crowds in excess of 50,000. Eleven of
the returning 39 bowl games increased by more than 4,000 fans over
last season. The FCS attracted a record 258,066 fans to its 23 playoff
games while the Division II National Championship game in Kansas City,
Kan., set an attendance record of 16,181 spectators.
Regular Season Attendance Highlights

* The overall attendance for NCAA football games across all three
divisions drew 49,057,966 fans at home games, neutral-site games and
postseason games in 2015.
* The Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) drew 37,957,921 spectators
or an average of 43,933 fans per game. The Football Championship
Subdivision (FCS) pulled in 5,571,456 fans, followed by Division II
with 3,003,019 and Division III with 2,357,469.
* The SEC led all FBS conferences in average attendance for the
18th consecutive year with an all-conference record 78,630 fans per
home game, with more than 7.7 million total fans attending SEC games
in 2015. Six SEC schools were in the nation’s Top 10 in average
attendance.
* The top-five conferences for average attendance included the SEC
(78,630), Big Ten (66,008), Big 12 (57,347) Pac-12 (51,880) and ACC
(49,033).
* The Big Ten set a new single-season attendance record in 2015
with 6,534,801 fans attending games, marking the third consecutive
season that more than six million fans attended home and neutral site
contests and the fourth time in the past five years.
* Average attendance at American Athletic Conference set a
single-season conference record with 2,419,994 fans attending home and
neutral site games. The conference saw a 9.1 percent increase to
average 31,842 fans per game in 2015.
* Additional conference setting total attendance records in 2015
included the Sun Belt Conference in the FBS (1,101,365) and the Big
South in the FCS (291,162).
* Michigan returned to the top of the FBS attendance charts after
averaging 110,168 fans per home game in 2015. Five other programs also
averaged more than 100,000: Ohio State (107,244), Texas A&M (103,622),
LSU (102,004), Alabama (101,112) and Tennessee (100,584). Penn State
(99,799), Georgia (92,746), Florida (90,065) and Texas (90,035)
rounded out the top ten.
* Other universities with more than 80,000 fans per home game
included Nebraska (89,998), Auburn (87,451), Oklahoma (85,357),
Clemson (84,038) and Notre Dame (80,795).
* Michigan has led the nation in individual average game
attendance for all but one year since 1974 when in 2014 both Ohio
State and Texas A&M notched higher totals.
* Temple posted the largest attendance gain during the 2015
season, playing in front of an average home crowd of 44,159, an
increase of 20,789 per game.
* Other universities that saw an increase of more than 5,000 fans
per home game included Memphis (9,951), Akron (8,928), Cincinnati
(8,257), Pittsburgh (6,835), Houston (5,669), Southern Miss (5,595),
Michigan (5,259) and New Mexico State (5,217).
* Alabama led all teams with 1,354,327 fans attending 15 games in
2015 (including all home and away games and the postseason). Ten other
teams also eclipsed more than one million spectators during the
season: Florida (1,168,182), Ohio State (1,156, 844), Michigan
(1,141,598), Tennessee (1,131,422), Penn State (1,112,170), Texas A&M
(1,104,438), Auburn (1,087,875), Clemson (1,082,512), Georgia
(1,074,153) and Michigan State (1,064,492).
* Montana again claimed the FCS attendance title, drawing 168,975
fans for an average of 24,139 per home game. Jacksonville State
(20,598), Yale (20,547), James Madison (19,498) and Montana State
(19,172) rounded out the top five in average attendance.
* Grand Valley State (Mich.) captured the Division II attendance
title for the second year in a row, attracting 74,187 fans for an
average of 12,365 per game. Tuskegee (Ala.) with 10,663; Pittsburg
State (Kan.) with 9,856; Central Missouri with 9,099; and North
Alabama with 7,970 rounded out the top five in average attendance.
* Saint John’s (Minn.) led Division III in attendance at 53,372
fans for an average of 7,625 per game. Rounding out the top five in
average attendance were Wisconsin-Whitewater with 6,122; Emory & Henry
(Va.) with 5,496; Geneva (Pa.) with 4,797; and Hampden-Sydney (Va.)
with 4,710.
* The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) earned its 37th FCS
attendance title in 38 years, averaging 12,823 fans for a total of
653,962. The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) again
netted the Division II attendance title, averaging 6,074 fans per
game. The Minnesota Intercollegiate Conference claimed its 10th
attendance title in 11 years with 3,286 fans per game.
* East Tennessee State, which relaunched its football program in
2015, saw better attendance numbers this past season than it did
during its last season back in 2003. The average attendance for the
university’s six home games in 2015 was 7,128 while the 2003
attendance average was 5,512 per game.
* Kennesaw State sold out all six of its home games during its
inaugural season in 2015, attracting an average of 8,820 fans per
game.
Regular Season Ratings Highlights
* For the seventh consecutive year, the “SEC ON CBS” was the
highest-rated regular season college football package on any network.
CBS Sports’ national coverage of SEC football averaged a national
household rating/share of 3.4/8. This marked the 20th season of SEC
football on CBS.
* CBS also scored the season’s highest-rated and most-watched
college football game with the SEC Championship between ‘Bama and
Florida. The game delivered an average national household rating/share
of 7.8/17 and averaged 12.76 million viewers.
* CBS also had the second most-watched game of the season:
Alabama’s primetime showdown versus LSU on Nov. 7, which averaged
11.06 million viewers.
* Rounding out the top five most-watched games were Michigan
State-Ohio State on ABC (11.05 million viewers), Ohio State-Michigan
on ABC (10.83 million) and Ohio State-Virginia Tech on ESPN in week
one (10.59 million).
* The week one kickoff game between Ohio State and Virginia Tech
on ESPN attracted 10,585,000 viewers, making it the most-watched
opening weekend college football game ever on ESPN or ABC.
* WatchESPN usage continued to rise in 2015. Factoring in both the
regular season and bowl season, seven of the top 10 most-streamed
college football games ever occurred this season and all 10 have
occurred since January 2015, based on unique viewers.
* In 2015, WatchESPN saw per game increases of 54% in average
minute impressions, 38% in total unique viewers and 53% in total
minutes viewed.
* ESPN-rated networks (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNEWS)
averaged 1,852,000 viewers for the 270 games televised in the 2015
college football regular season, a rise of 4 percent in viewership
compared to 2014 regular season.
* ESPN alone averaged 2,721,000 viewers for the 74 games the
network aired, marking the fourth consecutive year viewership has
increased.
* ABC averaged 4,979,000 viewers for 41 game-windows, the most
ever carried by ABC in a single season.
* ABC Saturday Night Football was the most-watched series in all
of college football, across all networks, averaging 5,340,000 viewers.
* College football games on FOX in 2015 were up 19 percent in
ratings (1.9 vs. 1.6) and up 15 percent in viewership (3.0 million vs.
2.6 million).
* Combined, college football games featuring the Big 12, Big Ten,
Pac-12 and Conference USA on FOX and FOX Sports 1 posted an average
viewership increase of 12 percent over 2014.
* This season, FOX saw its highest-rated and most-watched regular
season game ever, with Stanford’s win over Notre Dame on Nov. 28,
which posted a 4.3/11 with more than 7.3 million viewers.
* FOX Sports 1 opened the 2015 season on Thursday, Sept. 3, with
the highest-rated, most-watched game in the channel’s history. Utah’s
24-17 win over Michigan posted a 1.73 household rating with more than
2.8 million viewers.
* NBC’s top college football games included a 2.5 rating for
USC-Notre Dame in week seven and 4.1 million viewers for Texas-Notre
Dame in week one. The week one game against Texas was the most-watched
Notre Dame home opener since the 2006 game against Penn State.
* CBS’ coverage of the 116th Army-Navy Game earned a 4.5 final
rating and 7.1 million viewers, making it the highest rated and
most-watched game between the rivals since 1999 and 1994,
respectively. Ratings for the Army-Navy Game have now increased for
five consecutive seasons.
* During the opening weekend of the 2015 season between Thursday,
Sept. 3, and Monday, Sept. 7, ESPN televised eight games averaging
3,356,000 viewers, up 27 percent from the seven games which aired
during 2014’s opening weekend on ESPN.
* NBC Sports Network televised its first-ever Notre Dame football
game on Nov. 21 (a 19-16 victory over Boston College at Fenway), which
averaged 2.0 million viewers to rank as the network’s most-watched
college football game ever.
* The game between Wisconsin and Alabama on ABC’s Saturday Night
Football in week one drew a 4.3 final rating and 8.0 million viewers,
making it the second-most watched Saturday Night Football opener in
nine years.
* The 2015 edition of the Red River Rivalry on ABC averaged
4,992,000 viewers, making it the most-watched Texas-OU game since
2011, up 18 percent from 2014, 6% from 2013 and 12% from 2012.
* The Big Ten Championship Game on FOX between Michigan State and
Iowa attracted 9.8 million viewers and a 5.7/11 household
rating/share, increases of 63 percent and 61 percent over last year’s
game, respectively.
* In 2015, ESPN’s College GameDay averaged 1,961,000 viewers per
episode (14 shows), the most-watched regular season since the show
expanded to three hours in 2013. The record-setting viewership
represents a 5% increase from last season and 7% from 2013. Overall,
five of the seven most-watched three-hour episodes occurred this
season.

Postseason Attendance Highlights
* The 41 bowl games (including the CFP National Championship) this
season attracted 1,796,498 spectators to the stands (43,817 per
contest). The total number of fans represents an overall increase of
65,974 from 2014-15. Seventy-seven percent of all stadium seating was
utilized, the best aggregate total since 2011-12.
* The Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual ranked as
the highest-attended bowl game with 94,268 fans watching Stanford
defeat Iowa, 45-16. Six other bowl games attracted more than 71,000
fans: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic/CFP Semifinal (82,812); CFP
National Championship (75,765); Allstate Sugar Bowl (72,117); AdvoCare
V100 Texas Bowl (71,307); BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl (71,123); and
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (71,007).
* The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (82,812) between Alabama and
Michigan State and the Capital One Orange Bowl (67,615) between
Clemson and Oklahoma both saw 16% increases in attendance over last
year.
* The attendance of 72,117 at the Allstate Sugar Bowl between Ole
Miss and Ok. State marked the 61st time in the bowl’s 82-year history
it attracted more than 70,000 fans.
* The sellout crowd of 71,307 at the 2015 AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
between LSU and Texas Tech was the highest attendance in the bowl’s
history and its second-straight sellout.
* After previously selling out in December, the Fiesta Bowl added
2,600 tickets and seats for the game between Ohio State and Notre Dame
due to high demand. A sold-out crowd of 71,123saw the Buckeyes’
victory on New Year’s Day.
* The 30,289 people in attendance at the Gildan New Mexico Bowl
between Arizona and New Mexico marked the third largest total in its
history and the highest since the 2010 contest.
* Arkansas defeated Kansas State, 45-23, in the AutoZone Liberty
Bowl before a sellout crowd of 61,136, the fourth-largest crowd in the
game’s 57-year history.
* Utah’s win over BYU came before a sold-out crowd of 42,213,
which ranked as the second largest in Las Vegas Bowl history, behind
only the 44,615 that saw BYU defeat Oregon in 2006. The 42,213 was up
28 percent from last year.
* The Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl attracted 63,113 fans for its
matchup of Michigan and Florida, the bowl’s largest crowd since the
two teams met in the 2008 edition. The total also produced a 30
percent increase above last season.
* Announced attendance for college football’s 39 returning
postseason games increased two percent, with 23 games (59 percent)
reporting higher crowd totals than last season. In all, 14 games
attracted capacity or over-capacity attendances.
* Fifteen bowl games had crowds in excess of 50,000: Rose Bowl
Game (94,268), CFP Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
(82,812), CFP National Championship (75,765), Allstate Sugar Bowl
(72,117), AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (71,307), BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl
(71,123), Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (71,007), CFP Semifinal at the
Capital One Orange Bowl (67,615), Valero Alamo Bowl (64,569), Buffalo
Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (63,113), AutoZone Liberty Bowl (61,136),
Birmingham Bowl (59,430), TaxSlayer Bowl (58,212), Outback Bowl
(53,202) and Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (50,478).
* Eleven of the returning 39 bowl games increased attendance by
more than 4,000 fans above last season.
* The 2015 ACC Football Championship Game between Clemson and
North Carolina drew a crowd of 74,514 fans, the most in the 11-year
history of the game. The crowd was also the largest in the 20-year
history of Bank of America Stadium, breaking a mark set by the
Carolina Panthers in 2014.
* The FCS attracted a record 258,066 fans to its 23 playoff games
for an average of 11,220 per game. The Division II tournament drew
111,853 fans for an average of 4,143 over 27 games. The Division III
playoffs attracted 66,834 for an average of 2,156 over 31 games.
* The 2016 FCS Championship between North Dakota State and
Jacksonville State attracted 21,836 fans, the highest mark in the six
years Frisco, has hosted the championship and the most overall since
2007.
Notable Bowl Facts and Milestones
* Alabama’s 45-40 victory over Clemson in the National
Championship gave the Crimson Tide its 16th national championship. It
was also head coach Nick Saban’s fifth national title.
* The NFF announced the 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Class
at the media hotel the Friday before the CFP National Championship.
Members of the class, including Bert Jones (LSU), Pat McInally
(Harvard) and Rod Woodson (Purdue), took part in pregame festivities
and the coin toss prior to the title game. The NFF also recognized
2015 William V. Campbell Trophy winner Ty Darlington (Oklahoma) at the
game.
* The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl hosted the 11th Annual NFF National
Hall of Fame Salute, featuring the 2015 College Football Hall of Fame
Class.
* The NFF inducted Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and Arizona
Cardinals President Michael Bidwill into the NFF Leadership HOF at an
induction dinner that served as the kickoff event for the CFP National
Championship weekend.
* The CFP announced that Atlanta, Santa Clara/Bay Area and New
Orleans will host the CFP National Championships in 2018, 2019 and
2020, respectively.
* The number of bowl games increased to a record of 41 in 2015,
with the inaugural editions of the AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando,
Fla., and the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl in Tucson, Ariz.
* CBS aired the Hyundai Sun Bowl for the 48th consecutive season,
the longest continuous relationship between a bowl game and one TV
network. The 2015 Sun Bowl featured Washington State and Miami, and
CBS aired a segment at halftime featuring 2015 William V. Campbell
Trophy recipient Ty Darlington (OU).
* Alabama made its record 63rd postseason appearance.
* The SEC is the first conference in college football history to
send at least 10 teams to bowl games in three consecutive seasons. The
conference has sent no less than eight teams to bowls in each of the
last 10 seasons.
* The SEC set an NCAA record with nine bowl victories, while
boasting an impressive 82 percent winning percentage in its 11
postseason games.
* Eighteen teams posted at least 45 points in their respective
bowl games: Georgia Southern (58), LSU (56), Boise State (55),
California (55), Virginia Tech (55), Tulsa (52), Miss. State (51),
Baylor (49), Ole MIss (48), La Tech (47), TCU (47), Alabama, Arizona
(45), Arkansas (45), Stanford (45), Tennessee (45), W. Kentucky (45)
and W. Michigan (45).
* Baylor ran for an all-time, NCAA bowl-record 645 yards in its
49-38 victory over North Carolina in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Bears
running back Johnny Jefferson’s 299 rushing yards are the second-most
all-time in NCAA bowl history.
* Florida State played in a bowl game this year for the 34th
consecutive year, the longest current streak in the nation, which
started with the 1982 season.
* Appalachian State won in its first-ever NCAA bowl game
appearance, defeating Ohio in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl. The
Mountaineers became the first program to win a bowl game in its first
season as a full-fledged member of the FBS.
* Georgia Southern defeated Bowling Green in the GoDaddy Bowl,
58-27, to claim its first bowl victory in its first year of postseason
eligibility.
* Alabama running back Derrick Henry became the 19th player in FBS
history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season during the Crimson Tide’s
38-0 victory over Michigan State in the CFP Semifinal at the Goodyear
Cotton Bowl Classic.
* Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson’s 405 passing yards are the
most in National Championship Game history, breaking former Southern
California quarterback Matt Leinart’s record of 365 yards.
* Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds set FBS records for most
rushing yards by a quarterback (4,559) and most career rushing
touchdowns among all players (88) during the Midshipmen’s win over
Pittsburgh in the Military Bowl.
* Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey gained a Rose Bowl-record 368
all-purpose yards in the Cardinal’s 45-16 win over Iowa, finishing the
season with an FBS-record 3,864 all-purpose yards. He became the first
player in Rose Bowl history with 100 yards both rushing and receiving.
* TCU’s 31-point comeback against Oregon to win the Valero Alamo
Bowl tied the largest comeback for any bowl game in NCAA history.
Texas Tech also rallied from 31 points down against Minnesota in the
2006 Insight Bowl.
* LSU running back Leonard Fournette’s five touchdowns in the
Texas Bowl tied the record for the most in a bowl game in NCAA
history.
* Retiring Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer recorded his
280th win, after the Hokies beat Tulsa in the Camping World
Independence Bowl. The win also marked his 11th bowl victory and 23
straight winning seasons.
* The combined 107 points, 1,161 yards of total offense, 14
touchdowns and 57 first downs between Virginia Tech and Tulsa are all
Independence Bowl records. The 76 combined first-half points were the
most ever in any half of any NCAA D-I bowl.
* In Mississippi State’s 51-28 victory over North Carolina State
in the Belk Bowl, Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott threw for a Belk
Bowl-record 380 yards and four touchdowns. In doing so, he became just
the fourth player in FBS history to throw for 9,000 yards and run for
2,500 yards in their career.
* In the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Louisville
quarterback Lamar Jackson became just the third player in NCAA bowl
history with 200 yards both rushing and passing in a game.
* The 48 points scored by Mississippi in its victory over Ok.
State were the third most points scored in Sugar Bowl history.
* Bowls celebrating notable milestones included the Goodyear
Cotton Bowl Classic (80th), Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (70th) and
Outback Bowl (30th).
* The Pac-12 sent a conference record 10 teams to bowl games. In
terms of percentage of membership achieving bowl eligibility, the
Pac-12 led all conferences at 83.3 percent.
* The MAC tied a conference record by sending seven teams to bowl games.
* The Sun Belt tied a conference record by sending four teams to
postseason bowls.
* North Dakota St won its fifth straight FCS National
Championship, becoming the first school across all NCAA divisions to
win five championships in a row. The Bison now have 13 national titles
all time, including eight at the Division II level.
* In the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the region,
the Allstate Sugar Bowl has produced an overall economic impact of
$2,528,900,000 in New Orleans and Louisiana. For the organization’s
full slate of events in 2015, including the Allstate Sugar Bowl
Football Classic, the economic impact was $264.05 million.
made by a bowl game to a charitable cause.
* Oklahoma made its 19th Orange Bowl appearance, more than any
other school. It was also the Sooners’ 17th consecutive bowl bid.
* Utah has won 12 of its last 13 bowl games, and nine of 10 under
head coach Kyle Whittingham.
* Akron claimed its first FBS bowl win in school history with a
23-21 victory over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The
Zips finished with eight wins for the first time since moving up to
the FBS in 1987.
* Western Michigan captured its first bowl win in program history
after a 45-31 win against Middle Tennessee in the Popeyes Bahamas
Bowl.
* With a 44-41 overtime victory against Indiana in the New Era
Pinstripe Bowl, Duke won its first bowl game since beating Arkansas in
the 1961 Cotton Bowl.
* San Diego State became the first team to open with a 1-3 record
or worse and then win every remaining game, including the bowl game,
in 29 years.
* Marshall’s 16-10 victory over Connecticut in the St. Petersburg
Bowl capped a third straight 10-plus win season and the fifth
consecutive bowl game win for coach Doc Holliday and the Herd.
* Louisiana Tech won back-to-back bowl games for the first time in
program history while setting or tying 17 different New Orleans Bowl
records in its 47-28 victory over Arkansas State.

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