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Expansion By The Numbers 2: Television Markets

In Part 2 of our series on SEC expansion, we begin to break down the numbers for 35 different schools.  The schools we’ve included (and, no, not all of these are realistic) are: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest (from the ACC); Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida and West Virginia (from the Big East); Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech (from the Big 12); as well as wild cards East Carolina, Navy, Notre Dame, Penn State and TCU.

This Category:  Top 40 Television Markets within a 200-Mile Radius

Why:  Television is driving the bus on expansion.  As schools try to fortify themselves against a bad economy and rising costs (including rising scholarship costs), the best place to turn for new, guaranteed income is television.  Whether it’s networks who want high ratings in as many markets as possible, or conferences looking for additional cable households and subscription rates, TV is the reason the college sports landscape has been changing steadily from 1984 until now.

We grabbed our handy map and credited any school with “owning” any Top 40 market within 200 miles of its campus.  Networks and leagues will bicker about how many New Yorkers will watch a Rutgers game, but this still gives us a good starting point.  We took the latest Nielsen estimates for each Top 40 market and slid those households into our chart next to each school.  Some schools — those without a Top 40 market nearby — will show 0 television households.  Clearly that’s not the case, but a line had to be drawn somewhere.  We drew it at the Top 40.

There are only ten Top 40 markets located within 200 miles of an SEC school: Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Columbus, Greensboro-Spartanburg, Indianapolis, Nashville, Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburgh.  At the bottom of this page, we’ll show you which SEC schools “claim” these markets.  But to be fair, we do not consider Charlotte or Columbus or Indianapolis to be SEC markets (even though the league might have more influence there than we initially thought).  So if one of our 35 schools can reach a market outside of an existing SEC state that could add to the league’s pull in that area, we credited that school with the households.  (Example: Clemson would get credit for Charlotte even though South Carolina has some reach there, too.  But Clemson would not get credit for Greenville-Spartanburg or Atlanta as both of those markets are squarely in SEC territory.)


Rank School New Top 40 Households (millions) Top 40 Markets within 200 Miles
1 Rutgers 15.6 New York, Philly, DC, Baltimore, Hartford, Harrisburg-York
2 Connecticut 10.9 New York, Boston, Hartford
3t Maryland 7.1 Philly, DC, Baltimore, Harrisburg-York
3t Navy 7.1 Philly, DC, Baltimore, Harrisburg-York
5 Penn State 5.9 Philly, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Harrisburg-York
6 Notre Dame 5.5 Chicago, Indianapolis, Milwaukee
7t Baylor 5.4 Dallas, Houston, San Antonio
7t Texas 5.4 Dallas, Houston, San Antonio
7t Texas A&M 5.4 Dallas, Houston, San Antonio
10 Virginia 4.5 DC, Raleigh, Baltimore
11 Pittsburgh 3.5 Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Columbus
12 Boston College 3.4 Boston, Hartford
13 Cincinnati 2.9 Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus
14t Oklahoma 2.5 Dallas
14t TCU 2.5 Dallas
16t Duke 2.2 Charlotte, Raleigh
16t Miami 2.2 Miami, West Palm Beach
16t N. Carolina 2.2 Charlotte, Raleigh
16t NC State 2.2 Charlotte, Raleigh
16t Virginia Tech 2.2 Charlotte, Raleigh
16t Wake Forest 2.2 Charlotte, Raleigh, (Greenville-Spartanburg)
22 Missouri 2.1 St. Louis, Kansas City
23 Louisville 2.0 Indianapolis, Cincinnati, (Nashville)
24t Clemson 1.1 Charlotte, (Atlanta, Greenville-Spartanburg)
24t W. Virginia 1.1 Pittsburgh
24t E. Carolina 1.1 Raleigh
27t Kansas 0.9 Kansas City
27t Kansas State 0.9 Kansas City
29 S. Florida 0.7 West Palm Beach (Tampa-St. Petersburg, Orlando)
30t Florida State 0.0 None
30t Georgia Tech 0.0 (Atlanta, Greenville-Spartanburg, Birmingham)
30t Syracuse 0.0 None
30t Iowa State 0.0 None
30t Oklahoma State 0.0 None
30t Texas Tech 0.0 None


For those screaming that your favorite school is 201 miles from a city, too bad.  This is a ballpark study.  No one’s life is riding on it and to be honest, if something in the chart above literally makes you angry… you probably need to find a new hobby.

Some interesting notes:

* It should be clear why Rutgers and UConn are always mentioned in connection with Big Ten and ACC expansion.  Look at the potential viewers in those areas.

* Ditto Maryland.

* Navy is a unique situation, but we’ll credit them with those markets even though they don’t have the typical local following of a major university.

* We’ll get more into branding in a later piece, but a school like Notre Dame would drive up ratings in a heckuva lot more spots than just Chicago, Indianapolis and Milwaukee.

* In our “Expounding on Expansion” series last year, we credited Virginia Tech with the Washington, DC market due to the fact that its top alumni base is there.  And the same could be said for other schools and other markets.  That’s why took the simple, hardline path of using a 200-mile radius.

* Once again, if you see a market in parentheses above, it means that school is within 200 miles of that market… but that market is already inside an SEC state.  So the school brings nothing new to the league in terms of market claims.


And for the record, here’s how the SEC would look broken down using the same methods (but, of course, counting SEC markets):


Rank School Top 40 Households (Millions) Top 40 Markets within 200 Miles
1 Georgia 3.2 Atlanta, Greensville-Spartanburg
2t Auburn 3.1 Atlanta, Birmingham
2t Florida 3.1 Tampa-St. Petersburg, Orlando
4t Kentucky 2.9 Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus
4t S. Carolina 2.9 Charlotte, Greensville-Spartanburg
6 Tennessee 1.8 Nashville, Greensville-Spartanburg
7 Vanderbilt 1.7 Nashville, Birmingham
8t Alabama 0.7 Birmingham
8t Mississippi State 0.7 Birmingham
8t Ole Miss 0.7 Birmingham
11t Arkansas 0.0 None
11t LSU 0.0 None


If a league wanted to raid the SEC today — and was using the urge for eyeballs as its main criteria — Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky and South Carolina would be okay.  The others?  Not so much.

In Part 3 of our series we’ll look at the population base for each school’s home state.

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