Breaking Down TV for the G5

Among the so-called G5 the TV money breakdown has the MWC and AAC at the top followed by C-USA then the MAC and Sun Belt. Looking at the 2013 TV audiences who is delivering viewers for the networks? Our analysis only looks at games that don't involve ACC, Big 10, Big XII, Pac-12 or SEC.

The Mountain West Conference had 22 national telecasts. The average telecast was seen by 740,727 viewers.

The MWC title game drew 1.7 million viewers on CBS. Excluding the MWC title game, the MWC drew an average of 695,048 viewers per game. The three most watched MWC games all included Boise State, 2.12 million for Fresno State, 2 million for Air Force, and 1.97 million for BYU. Those games were on ESPN. One other MWC game drew more than one million viewers, Air Force vs. Navy drew 1.39 million viewers on CBS.

Their current TV deal runs through the 2019-20 season and will on average pay a little under $1.5 million per team per year.

The AAC is losing Louisville and Rutgers to the ACC and Big 10 respectively so I dumped games involving either team since their selection to top leagues implies they will draw large TV audiences consistent with those conferences. That left 12 rated games. AAC averaged 540,917 for those remaining games.

The numbers were skewed greatly by 13,000 for Temple vs. Memphis, 56,000 for UConn vs. Cincinnati and 79,000 for Memphis vs. Houston. Three games drew in excess of 1 million viewers. UCF vs. USF, UCF vs. SMU and USF vs. Houston. Two of the three lowest watched games were on ESPNnews.

While the AAC without Louisville or Rutgers does not have a TV anchor similar to Boise State, the deal runs to 2019-20 and pays roughly $1.5 million per team depending on how revenue is shared with football only member Navy, reports have indicated that Navy will retain its TV rights through 2017 so it is likely they will not share or take a significantly reduced share until the final two years of the AAC contract.

The Mid-American Conference, or more accurately, Northern Illinois, had a stellar TV year. With 15 nationally televised games including the league title game, the average audience was 511,800, regular season games (excluding the title game) drew an average of 414,786 viewers.

The three most watched regular season games all included Northern Illinois 1.05 million for Toledo, 1.04 million for Ball State, and 881,000 for Western Michigan. The championship game pitting Northern Illinois and Bowling Green drew 1.87 million viewers.

Three MAC regular season games in 2013 outdrew the Red Wolves vs. Cajuns (all included Northern Illinois), while the three ESPN2 MAC telecasts without Northern Illinois drew smaller audiences.

The MAC television deal expires in 2016-17 and pays about $1 million to be split among 12 full members with presumably some sort of share to football only member UMass. Clearly it is the best bargain among the G5 television deals.

The Sun Belt in 2013 had five national telecasts that were intra-conference or against G5 leagues (two on ESPN2, three ESPNU). The average viewership was 302,800. Nearly as many people watched Arkansas State vs. UL Lafayette than viewed the two most watched CUSA games combined.

The Sun Belt television deal runs through 2019-20 and pays about $1 million per year divided among the 9 all-sports members, 2 non-football playing full members and 2 football only members.

Conference USA had eleven national telecasts in 2013 that were intra-conference or against other G5 leagues. The eleven telecasts averaged 191,364 viewers.

The largest audience was for Marshall vs. Rice in the C-USA title game drawing 449,000 viewers on ESPN2. The second largest was Southern Miss at Boise State on ESPU with 329,000 viewers. The third most watched was MTSU at BYU on ESPNU with 313,000 viewers. ALl but one of the remaining games were all on FS1.

The FS1 games drew an average of 116,670 viewers. If you eliminate games involving teams departing for the AAC, the CUSA games on FS1 games averaged 90,500 viewers.

FS1 is still getting established and had only two P5 games that drew in excess of 2 million viewers and four that drew less than 2 million but more than 1 million.

The Conference USA TV deal was negotiated prior to the loss of Houston, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, Memphis, UCF, and ECU. It pays a reported $1 million per team, and based solely on viewership is the most expensive of the G5 television deals. The contract reportedly expires with the 2015-16 season.