Alabama Football: More SEC expansion will follow eyeballs

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

While Alabama football fans take an easy day waiting for Thursday night’s NFL Draft, here is something different to munch on. Checking out some Crimson Tide message boards recently, I came across a debate over which teams will join the SEC next.

There were many opinions and considerable disagreement. There was some consensus that any expansion will be decided by the size of TV markets. While that is a factor, it does not go all the way in defining what brings the most value to the future 16 SEC teams.

The value comes in media dollars and those payouts are determined by actual eyeballs rather than markets. Huge full stadiums make great sets for the broadcasts of the game, but those stadium eyeballs are not part of a media deal calculation.

I did some digging and found what appears to be good data on average broadcast audiences for over 100 FBS teams in the 2021 regular season. Credit Zach Miller for his research effort and data.

The link above includes data on 110 teams and as Miller stated, when available, streaming numbers were included. The list below includes all SEC teams, plus Texas and Oklahoma and others.

2021 Average Regular Season Game Viewer Totals

  • Ohio State – 5.2M
  • Michigan – 4.7M
  • Alabama – 4.6M
  • Penn State – 3.9M
  • Georgia – 3.6M
  • Oklahoma – 3.5M
  • Auburn – 3.2M
  • Michigan State – 2.9 M
  • Notre Dame 2.8M
  • Oregon 2.6M
  • Wisconson – 2.4M
  • Nebraska – 2.3M
  • Texas – 2.3M
  • Florida – 2.2M
  • Arkansas – 2M
  • LSU – 1.9M
  • Texas A&M – 1.9M
  • Ole Miss – 1.8M
  • Clemson 1.7M
  • Tennessee 1.5M
  • Kentucky – 1M
  • Miami – 1M
  • Mississippi State – 858K
  • Arizona State – 739K
  • South Carolina – 575K
  • Pittsburgh – 550K
  • North Carolina State – 525K
  • Missouri – 462K
  • Georgia Tech 459K
  • Virginia Tech – 447K
  • UAB – 163K
  • Vanderbilt – 37K

Some of the numbers are astoundingly poor. Several examples also show the size of the TV markets where schools are located is basically a non-factor. Phoenix-Tempe and Arizona State is one example.

As Miller points out there are factors that vary from season to season. The quality of the teams in the games changes. How well or how poorly a season is going is a variable. On what day and at what time games are played is a significant variable.

Alabama Football Fans Expect More SEC Expansion

Still, the numbers indicate when the SEC moves to 18 or even 20 teams, adding Nebraska, Penn State, Clemson or Florida State would be more valuable than adding Pittsburgh, NC State or Virginia Tech. Although, if any of the last three were added a schedule of SEC opponents would ramp up their numbers.

dark. Next. What comes next? Expanded SEC or dissolved NCAA?

One more set of interesting numbers. The six games with the largest viewing audiences in the 2021 regular season were Ohio State at Michigan (15.9M), Alabama at Auburn (10.4M), Michigan at Michigan State (9.3M), Georgia at Clemson (8.9M), Alabama at Texas A&M (8.3M) and Alabama at Florida (7.9M).