What we're left with is "studio football" -- a term coined (by me) to describe how far we've come in monetizing the game. Attendance, increasingly, doesn't matter.Probably because I said the same thing 11 months ago in the context of the 9 game SEC schedule. I still think I am right about this:
if the money is right, the stadium is merely a prop for the show happening on the field.Why would they care about a few hundred thousand dollars when ESPN is offering hundreds of millions? The bowls are already suffering, at least in terms of match-ups, due to this phenomenon. Bowls that have failed have done so because they have tried to go up against other bowls or better programming The ones that are surviving are the ones that work with ESPN to be creative in their air time.
Think about the New Mexico Bowl at 11:00am Pacific time the week after the regular season ended. Why kick off then? Because millions of sports fans were asked to choose between that game (which was attended by fewer than 25K people), a random NBA game, and an early season out of conference NCAA basketball game.
More people tuned in to watch a 7-5 Arizona and 7-5 Nevada in Albuquerque than to watch Butler beat #1 Indiana. Bowls are no longer about compelling match ups. They are about providing higher revenue blocks of programming for ESPN. A commercial in a four hour block of college football is more expensive than one in a four hour block of 30 for 30 re-runs or a random Sacramento vs. Utah game.
Dodd also sees the law of diminishing return at play. Importantly, he thinks that could end up being a limiting factor in the size of a college football playoff:
The playoff games themselves are guaranteed ratings and financial winners. As mentioned, the four-team playoff has been priced at $500 million per season. Would an eight-team playoff be worth $1 billion? That's where industry analyst say the game may reach the law of diminishing returns.I'm not optimistic that is the case, but you can bet the same people who found reason it is good for college football to have a playoff will find good reason to not expand it if there isn't more money involved.