NCAA Basketball Tournament Ratings Should Influence College Football

Samantha CookeCorrespondent IApril 7, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 05:  Kyle Singler #12 of the Duke Blue Devils goes up for a shot against Andrew Smith #41 of the Butler Bulldogs during the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 5, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

What is March without college basketball? It is just another month.

There would be nothing interesting happening. Sports fans would be getting ready for baseball season, hockey playoffs, and the NFL draft.

There would be no big bar nights with tons of fans watching two or more televisions at once.

Without March Madness, there would be no "Cinderella" teams to watch for or brackets to bet on.

People that have no interest in college basketball fill out brackets, head to the bars, and get invested in teams they have never heard of.

Now imagine if there was a playoff for a sport that people already get excited about. This sport already has good attendance and TV ratings.

Yes, that sport is football, but this is purely a ratings look at things. This is not an argument against the Bowl Championship Series, but an interesting look at the ratings they try and fail to receive.

This year, the NCAA basketball championship game was up over 31 percent from last year's ratings. They received a 26 share, which means that 26 percent of the households in America tuned in to watch Duke defeat Butler.

Compare that to the BCS National Championship Game, which got the same rating and share. That means as many people watched basketball as football.

When has the college basketball regular season had as many viewers as the college football regular season? Never.

Now compare the Sweet 16 to the minor bowls played in December, the Elite Eight to the minor bowls that are played in January, and the Final Four to the BCS Bowl Games.

The only time basketball loses is when it comes to the Final Four versus the BCS Bowl Games, and it is only a small margin.

The Sweet 16 averaged a 6.4 rating, which equates to almost 74,000 viewers. By comparison, the smaller December bowls averaged a 2.84 rating or under 33,000 viewers.

The Elite Eight got a slightly higher rating at 6.9. In comparison, the January lesser bowls got a 3.91 rating.

The Final Four was up this year from last year, receiving a 9.7 rating. Compare that to the BCS Games, which averaged a 10.78 rating. That is not that far off.

The national championship games in each sport had the same rating, which is interesting because more people attend football games than basketball games.

That is the other interesting piece of this puzzle: The Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and Final Four all had sold-out crowds.

Typically, a basketball arena holds around 20,000 people, while a football stadium holds about 70,000. The Final Four had an average attendance of 71,175. The BCS games only averaged about 7,000 more people.

What do all these numbers mean? These numbers show that people that have zero to no interest in basketball can get as excited about March Madness as people that have a big interest in basketball.

Basketball is achieving what football wants to achieve. The BCS gets all the attention they hope for, but this proves that no one cares about the non-BCS bowls.

If the entire bowl season was a playoff, there would likely be more interest and higher ratings for smaller bowls or December playoff games. This would equate to more advertising money and more attendance.

Please understand that this is not dismissing the BCS or saying to get rid of it. This is just a presentation of the numbers compared to March Madness.

With so much of the country interested in March Madness, shouldn't college football pay a little attention? Make every game matter and you will get the attendance, ratings, and money you hope for.