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TV Viewers Dig The SEC

There’s a reason CBS and ESPN are paying billions of dollars to the SEC for the league’s television rights — people watch SEC football.  And basketball.

According to this Nielsen ratings report, viewership of college football games by conference in 2011 (September 1st through November 30th) stacked up as follows:

Football Viewership

Rank Conference Average TV Viewers
1 SEC 4.44 million
2 Big Ten 3.26 million
3 ACC 2.65 million
4 Big 12 2.34 million
5 Pac-12 2.10 million
6 Big East 1.88 million

Even SEC basketball — which usually receives shrugs when mentioned alongside the likes of the almighty ACC and Big East — pulls in the viewers.  Here’s how the leagues stacked up in 2011 (January 1st through March 13th):

Basketball Viewership

Rank Conference Average TV Viewers
1 Big Ten 1.49 million
2 ACC 1.24 million
3 SEC 1.22 million
4 Big 12 1.06 million
5 Big East 1.04 million
6 Pac-10 (pre-expansion) .78 million

The above charts should also make it clear why football was so much more important than basketball in all of the recent conference realignment shuffling.

Below, we add up the numbers and you can get a clearer sense of which leagues draw in the most viewers or their football and basketball games combined:

Football and Basketball Combined Viewership

Rank Conference Average TV Viewers
1 SEC 5.66 million
2 Big Ten 4.75 million
3 ACC 3.89 million
4 Big 12 3.40 million
5 Big East 2.92 million
6 Pac-12/Pac-10 2.88 million


* Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott did one helluva job in lining up a new, rich TV contract.

* Missouri and Texas A&M aren’t blowing smoke when they say they’re going to get a lot more exposure in the SEC than they did in the Big 12.

* The Big Ten — with its huge alumni bases and major metropolitan areas — is doing quite well.  Especially with its own television network in tow.



Are these numbers with or without Missouri and Texas A&M? I assume without sine they're not official SEC conference members yet. Assuming that's the case, those numbers will only go up, a good thing for the SEC and their television “look in” negotiations.


john, fwiw, the numbers I've seen several different places are 4.45 million sec football and 3.27 million big 10


I'm surprised ACC and Big East basketball aren't higher. I spent a few years at an ACC school and fans there were fanatical about basketball. ESPN announcers are always raving about the Big East and commenting about the SEC being just a football conference yet more people watch SEC basketball games.



These numbers are interesting. It shows why the Big 10 likes all of the football bowl games against SEC teams and why they have formed an alliance with ACC in basketball. I hope the SEC will work on forming some strategic alliances to capitalize even better.  They should consider doing more with ACC (even though their geographies clash some) and maybe Big 12 a little more.   


Wow. The PAC 12 numbers are amazingly low given 4 schools in California and 2 in LA. I woul dhave thought USC and UCLA alone would generate better numbers.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



Since Missouri and Texas A&M didn't play in the SEC in 2011 these numbers do not include their games.



John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



Someone must be rounding.  We provided the link to the full numbers.  Not sure what other numbers are floating around or who's floating them, but I think the gist is pretty clear here.



John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



Just remember, football stadiums seat 60-90 thousand.  The biggest basketball arenas seat 20 thousand.  Football's the A1 sport.



John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



Between beaches, mountains and Vegas nearby, there's a lot more to do in California than just sit around and watch sports on TV.




 @John at MrSEC

 Also remember basketball teams play 30+ games per year, football teams only play 12.


 @John at MrSEC Well --- now-a-days you can watch football on your smart phone and still be at the beach, or on the mountains or even at the blackjack table in Vegas. Those Left Coasters are just not passionate enough!


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