December 21 2018

College Football: What's Next?

Thought Leadership, College Football

Bowl season has officially kicked off, and we’re a week away from this season’s highly anticipated College Football Playoff.


With experience bringing college football programs and campaigns to life for brands like Allstate, Taco Bell, The Home Depot and PlayStation, our experts here at Octagon have been hard at work all season-long developing programs and bringing thought-leadership to their clients for the years ahead.


Looking into 2019 and beyond, here’s their hot take on a few trending topics heading into January:


Luck ‘o the Irish: With Notre Dame in the semis, you can count on two things for the Cotton Bowl: high ratings and high ticket prices. Notre Dame’s fan base is always strong, but never stronger than Bowl season. If Notre Dame advances to the National Championship Game, you can expect a repeat of the mania that ensued when they took on Alabama in Miami in 2013. The whole country will be watching and the Irish hopeful will make the trip to San Jose. It’s a different ball game when Notre Dame is in the mix and that makes for big wins for the CFP.


Time to Expand: Now that the format is set and UCF is screaming for a shot at the Crimson Tide, there is credence to the claim that expansion is on the horizon. While incorporating four teams was the right way to get started, expanding will ensure all major conferences are represented for a true showdown and key officials are saying the midway point of ESPN’s deal coming up in 2020 could be the perfect time to launch a new format. What that looks like is definitely TBD (which Bowls, how many games, format), but expansion is a very real and timely consideration at this stage. It’s what’s right for the fans, the teams, the universities and the bowls, so it is just a matter of time.


Expansion = More Spend and More Opportunities: Under the current CFP system, New Year’s Six (NY6) bowl games, like the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, host a semifinal matchup every three years. If expansion were to occur, it is likely that this group of bowls would annually become coveted playoff games, further elevating the significance of the game and increasing annual exposure and ratings. As this happens, rights fees will rise to reflect the increased value provided to sponsors and new sponsorship opportunities and additional assets would be created and added to inventory both for the bowls themselves and the surrounding events and promotions.


Celebrating the Fans: We may be a little biased, but we think what Taco Bell brought to the college football regular season is pretty remarkable. And it has sustainability long into the future. By creating the first Live Mas Student Section of the Year through its ESPN and CFP partnerships, Taco Bell brought the biggest fans – arguably so – to the forefront. Student sections make the game day experience. Their enthusiasm, creativity and endurance not only ignite in-stadium fans and at-home viewers, but can affect what happens on the field as well. The students are long overdue to be recognized for what they bring to game day and it will be fun to watch them battle it out in years to come.


Ratings Growth Across Platforms: Networks are touting their success in college football this season and have the results to back it up. While the SEC continued to reign supreme, with the SEC on CBC garnering the highest-rated regular-season college football package on any network, ESPN reports that more than 163 million fans watched 77 billion, yes BILLION, minutes of college football coverage on its networks this season. More than 16.5 billion of those were spent on ESPN’s digital platforms and one of their premier programs, College GameDay Built by the Home Depot, averaged 1.9 million viewers after expanding programming to ESPN and ESPNU this season. Next week, they’ll be taking their live pregame show to South Florida for the Orange Bowl matchup between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma. Weekly drama driven by the College Football Playoff rankings and overall passion for college football have helped networks grow their audiences across platforms and we’ll continue to see this growth as the debate over the construct of the playoffs grows. (Source: Cynopsis)