Five weeks into the 2013 college football season, announced attendance at FBS games is down 3 percent compared to the same point in 2012 and almost 6 percent from this point in 2011, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Birmingham News.
The average attendance this season is 45,596, down from 47,181 through five weeks in 2012 and 48,279 at this time in 2011, according to an AL.com analysis. As ticket prices increase and nearly every game gets televised, many schools have faced decreasing crowds in recent years.
So far this season, 13 of the top 25 attendance leaders are down compared to the first five weeks of 2012. Three declined only less than 1 percent. Six dropped by 4 percent or more: Penn State (4 percent), USC (23 percent), Michigan State (8 percent), Iowa (6 percent), Arkansas (7 percent) and Virginia Tech (4 percent).
There are some inconsistencies in the study since schedules in the early going vary from year to year and will therefore have some influence on attendance. Also, there are more schools in the FBS this year, which can bring the average down a bit. And note that the biggest drop in attendance came from USC, which just fired its coach.
But even the SEC’s numbers are taking a hit:
Eight of the SEC’s schools are within 2 percent of where they were in 2012, when the SEC led the nation in attendance but had its lowest average since 2007. Half of the SEC has declined, although two schools are by less than 1 percent.
The attendance trend seems odd given the feeling that the sports is more popular than ever.
The continuing poor state of the economy probably plays a big factor in declining attendance. Student tastes are also becoming more fickle, which has an impact as well. But it’s possible, too, that college football is reaching a point of over-saturation. With so much coverage being thrown at us year-round and social media contributing to non-stop chatter, are the games becoming less attractive for fans to attend?
Perhaps the new College Football Playoff will help turn things around…