Last week the ACC put out its match-ups for the next twelve years. Predictably there was some teeth-gnashing by fans of programs in the ACC over the infrequency of many of the opponents from the other division. It’s one thing to know that it would be like that with an 8-game schedule and 14 teams. It’s something else to see it laid out in an official release.
The Virginia Tech blog, The Key Play has a proposal on the scheduling that does away with fixed cross-over games in favor of priority partner scheduling.
A priority partner would be chosen for each team every two years, and result in a home-and-home series. Priority partners would be determined by closely matching teams according to total number of regular season ACC wins in the previous two years, while avoiding permanent crossover pairings. The following example uses 2011 and 2012 ACC wins to set the schedule in 2014-2015 (because 2013 games haven’t happened yet).
It’s an interesting idea because it is a bit like the approach taken in the Big East with basketball scheduling. Unbalanced schedules in Big East basketball set to maximize competition and make TV partners happy with marquee games.
Football tends to schedule a little further out, so there are some chances that good match-ups turn out to be dogs, when based on records from prior years, but on initial review it is an idea worth considering further.
It’s no secret that football is king. Even the worst televised college football game generally beats the best college basketball games in the regular season. But how do individual games do on certain channels? And just as important, which teams draw the ratings?
Big Apple Buckets takes a stab at breaking some of it down. It’s very interesting about the drop-off in viewership from ESPN to ESPN2 or ESPNU. If the game is on CBS or ESPN, it is significantly higher (by at least a factor of 3) than ESPN2 or ESPNU.
Part of me wonders if at least some of that has to do when ESPN and CBS air the bulk of their college basketball games. CBS doesn’t start airing college basketball until at least mid-January. ESPN doesn’t do that much college basketball in November and December — at least compared to January to March, because of college football, NFL and then the college football bowl games. Big Monday, for example, doesn’t launch until January every year.
So the ESPN2 and ESPNU numbers could be depressed from the games they air in November and December that don’t get a lot of attention.
There were 98 teams that played at least five games on one of the networks. (Full list in spreadsheet form.) The most surprising to me is Old Dominion’s eight. The Monarchs took advantage of the CAA’s television deal with NBCSN and some nice non-conference games with VCU and Virginia to make it on a bunch. The only problem? The biggest viewership for any ODU game was 58,000 for the Friday, Dec. 7 game against VCU on NBCSN.
The Mountain West is where NBCSN is really making its money. New Mexico and UNLV were the two highest drawing teams by average viewers. Amongst the 22 teams with at least two appearances on the network Harvard finished eighth and Penn ninth. (On the minus side Hofstra and Columbia were smack dab at the bottom, which could be related to their poor play last season.)
It should be noted that things weren’t all bad for non-BCS conference teams. Temple and Butler both performed well in the ratings. The Bulldogs made 12 appearances and averaged a 0.52 rating. Gonzaga also did okay with a 0.4 rating in 17 appearances. Interestingly enough, Davidson earned a 0.27 rating in seven appearances and beat out BCS teams such as Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Clemson and St. John’s in the ratings.
Amongst BCS teams Cal and Arizona State performed surprisingly poorly. Not so surprising are DePaul and Seton Hall being amongst the laggards. While the new Big East features big draws like Georgetown and Butler, schools like the Blue Demons and Pirates could be the noose around the neck. (Creighton’s ratings last season were on par with St. John’s and Villanova.)
The spreadsheet is definitely worth checking out. Pitt placed 33d on the list. They had a rating of 0.38. Compared to the rest of the ACC (excluding Maryland, but including Louisville) Pitt would be ranked 7th (the Panthers would also be ranked 7th in last year’s Big East) in being watched. Pitt suffered for only having 1 game on CBS and 5 games on ESPN — which also included a weekday (Friday) 2:30pm game in November against Delaware. Most of Pitt’s games last year were on ESPN2 or ESPNU. It can be a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy for some programs. Get on the prime channels — CBS and ESPN — for college basketball exposure and your ratings are sure to be higher.
Still, while I think Pitt is a bit higher draw than last year’s numbers indicate, Pitt is still ranked in the upper-third of programs.
Want to see some more numbers? These involve dollar signs. Here’s a look at ACC revenue and some of its distribution for the past five years.
ACC television revenue nearly tripled from 2008-12, while the conference’s bowl income increased 50 percent and league basketball tournament receipts declined. This according to the ACC’s five most recent federal tax returns.
The net result for the conference’s 12 member schools during that time: Their average annual share of league revenue increased more than 43 percent, from $11.8 million to $16.9 million.
This placed the ACC in the middle of college football’s five power conferences, behind the Big Ten and Southeastern, and ahead of the Big 12 and Pacific 12. Their average per-school payouts ranged from the Pac-12’s $11.1 million to the Big Ten’s $23.8 million.
Most interesting is seeing the ACC Tournament in Greensboro becoming more of a money loser. You want to see the incentive to get to MSG (or even Barclays)? This is the reason.
The 2011-12 ACC men’s basketball tournament at Atlanta’s NBA arena grossed $5.1 million, a 21.9-percent dip from 2007-08 at Charlotte’s NBA arena. The $13.1 million in 2008-09 reflects the Georgia Dome venue and attendance of more than 30,000 per session.
For those who’ve noticed the empty seats at recent ACC tournaments, the revenue drop is no surprise. Will the additions of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame for the 2014 event, and Louisville for 2015, goose interest? Or is this further evidence that the league needs to take the tournament to New York?
Take. The. Tournament. To. New York.