Arrival Of Big Ten Helping Boost Fox Sports College Football Audience, Market Share
The arrival of the Big Ten on Fox Sports was a big story coming into the ’17 college football season, and some big games have paid dividends for Fox and FS1. The nets are averaging around 1.7 million viewers through Week 5 of the season, marking Fox/FS1's strongest start to date for college football. FS1 came out of the gate strong, averaging 2.05 million viewers for Maryland’s win over Texas, which was the most-viewed cable TV game of Week 1. Fox also drew a respectable 4.91 million viewers for USC’s win over Texas on Sept. 16. Even without the Big Ten games, Fox/FS1 would be seeing a gain over last year with its Big 12 and Pac-12 games.
AND THEY’RE OFF! Fox Dir of College Sports Derek Crocker called the start of the season for Fox and FS1 “pretty amazing.” He said the performance of the games has “exceeded our expectations to some extent … and it’s only going to get better.” He said of the Big Ten in particular, “Just look at the top 25, and even the top 10, right now. We’re getting some quality games. The combination of more games on our networks, and quality games, is really helping drive our growth.” Crocker also noted there will be 27 Big Ten games in total this season, and many of the new windows being created are for the Fox broadcast network. Crocker: “We did 20 games on the broadcast side last year, and this year we’re doing 34. By having more of those windows, our networks are becoming a destination for college football viewers.” Going forward, Fox believes some of its best games are coming up. Crocker believes the net to date has had maybe only one of what will be its top five most-viewed games of the season. Crocker: “We’re going to have Ohio State-Nebraska on FS1. We’ve got Penn State-Ohio State. And of course we’ve got Ohio State-Michigan and Bedlam (Oklahoma-Oklahoma State).”
ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS: Also of interest to advertisers is the total viewing for Fox Sports’ package of games. Total viewing with the additional games this year (24 this year vs. 16 last year on Fox/FS1 to date) is up almost 98%. Fox’ share of the CFB TV market also has more than doubled from last year (18.5% vs. 8.5%). But Fox also has some work to do to catch ESPN’s games. On cable TV, ESPN and ESPN2 have aired the 13 most-viewed games of the season to date, and 24 of the top 25. ABC's "Saturday Night Football" also has topped that primetime window for each week this season.