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What Does College Football’s Conference Realignment Mean for Sports Marketing & Growing Your Business?  

With historic realignment and new excitement surrounding never-before-seen matchups, the upcoming college football season is in great formation to deliver tangible results to brands that advertise alongside it.   

Meredith Cunningham Published: May 21, 2024
What Does College Football’s Conference Realignment Mean for Sports Marketing & Growing Your Business?   image

By Rob Leydon, Local Sales Manager at TEGNA’s First Coast News  in Jacksonville, Florida 

I was one of nearly 19 million viewers glued to my television watching Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes looking to finish off an incredible run in the NCAA Tournament. As a fan and a proud alum, I hung on to every moment of every Iowa game throughout that tournament, and those memories will always remain despite a loss to the (incredible and historic) South Carolina Gamecocks. That’s what live sports do – it galvanizes communities, stirs emotions, and inspires new generations of fans.   

It also creates incredible opportunities for your business to reach those fans when they are as engaged as they can possibly be. 

There are thousands of live sporting events televised every year, and each one creates a new opportunity to tap into an audience who made an appointment to watch that event on that day.  A committed audience, an engaged audience, and most importantly, your audience. 

As a Local Sales Manager at First Coast News in Jacksonville, Florida, I have the opportunity to match businesses with audiences every day, and we see an incredible opportunity coming up this season with College Football. Fans are marking their calendars to tune into the live sports for appointment TV, and I’m looking forward to helping businesses mark theirs as well. 

The upcoming season of college football will see dramatic changes. Conference realignment has largely eliminated the regional scope of the traditional conferences and replaced them with national footprints. Some traditions have been abandoned, but new visitors and rivalries come in their place (plus some renewed ones!). Ohio State and Michigan will always play – but Ohio State also hosts USC in Columbus and travels to Eugene, Oregon.  Oklahoma suddenly finds trips to LSU and Auburn on its schedule while Texas and Texas A&M renew a bitter rivalry that we haven’t seen in 12 years. Washington goes to Penn State, Florida State visits SMU in Dallas, and somehow Cal plays Stanford in the Atlantic Coast Conference? 

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Why is the Conference Realignment Important?  

This year, we have twelve teams (instead of four) that will make the playoffs, which makes every game even more important. With every new game and every new rivalry comes an active and engaged audience ready to hear your message. 

As we continue to see Appointment TV shift towards live sports and events, we see viewership growing to record numbers. There were 123.7 million viewers for the Super Bowl, 18.9 million viewers for the Women’s March Madness championship, and the Kentucky Derby was a galloping success with 20.1 million peak viewers. This is just the beginning.  

 With new matchups, expanded playoffs, and increased value in regular-season games, you can bet that sports fans will continually gather around the water cooler, so to speak, and talk about the games. There’s also a halo effect applies to brands that advertise with sports, which we can also back up with data, as studies show:  

  • 89% of fans see sponsor brands on TV as more trustworthy than other forms of advertising.  
  • 66% of “forever” fans take action after seeing a brand’s sponsorship 

The most passionate sports fans rooting for their local teams are three times more likely to connect with sponsors emotionally, visit that sponsor’s website, and purchase its products.  

Sound Good?  

It all shows that live sports are perfect for helping a business grow—and we’ve got the data to back that up. Time and again, we’re seeing live sports drive tons of traffic to our partners’ websites through their TEGNA Attribution reports. 

Draft Team TEGNA to help your brand capitalize on the excitement surrounding live sports. Let’s get in touch.   

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Want to learn more about sports advertising? Be sure to check out:   

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