Behind The Scenes

Research reveals strongest markets for college football viewership



College football fans are located in all types of nooks and crannies across the country, but what areas have the largest numbers of viewers per capita?

One way of looking at it is by local ratings.

We examined ESPN’s game telecast ratings in the nation’s 56 metered markets from 2000 to 2011. The results show the overall trends from the past 12 years, the Top 25 markets from 2011 and how the markets compare to this year’s Top 25 teams.

Not surprisingly, Birmingham, Ala. and Columbus, Ohio, rank among the highest-rated markets every year. However, a somewhat surprising finding was they are the only two markets to be in the top spot for all 12 years, and the Alabama market was No. 1 in 11 of the 12 seasons.

While Birmingham and Columbus are the only two to finish as the highest-rated market, six areas have landed in the No. 2 spot: Columbus and Knoxville, Tenn., five times each, and once each for Birmingham, Nashville, Tenn. New Orleans, La. and Oklahoma City, Okla.

The top five markets for 2011 were: No. 1 Birmingham; No. 2 (tie) Oklahoma City and Columbus; No. 4. Greenville, S.C. No. 5 (tie). New Orleans and Atlanta.

Overall, 13 markets have finished a season in the top five over the past 12 years: Birmingham, Columbus, Atlanta, Greenville, S.C., Knoxville, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Oklahoma City, Memphis,Tenn., Nashville, Louisville, Ky. Norfolk, Va., and Orlando.

The data was compiled into an ESPN press release earlier in the week.

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