When Alabama running back Derrick Henry was awarded the Heisman Trophy in New York City on Saturday night, fewer people watched it live on television than in 2013. And the year before that. In fact, almost half as many people watched the presentation on live television compared to the last time Alabama had a player win the Heisman Trophy (Mark Ingram, 2009).
For the third straight year, ESPN’s coverage of the Heisman Trophy ceremony saw disappointing viewership numbers. According to the data collected by Sports Media Watch, the Heisman Trophy presentation drew a 2.0 overnight rating, which was down 26 percent from the 2.7 received two years ago in 2013. Last year’s Heisman Trophy ceremony with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota also received a 2.0 overnight rating. This was the first time the program expanded to 90 minutes, but with just three finalists to recognize, that left plenty of filler for the audience to digest.
What could be the cause for the declining ratings? Is it coverage of the highest individual honor in college football? Stewart Mandel of FOX Sports has a possible explanation that is worth considering.
Heisman voters used to share their ballots with their Twitter followers and readers before the presentation of the Heisman Trophy. In response to this, the Heisman Trust decided no voters would be allowed to reveal their votes publicly before the awarding of the trophy, thus shutting down sites that used Heisman projections from confirmed voters and ballots to predict the outcome, rather successfully mind you. Since prohibiting voters from sharing their ballots with the public, the ratings have gone in a nose dive. Is it a coincidence, or was it just a matter of having two seasons in which it seemed fairly clear who would win the award? Mariota seemed like a lock for the Heisman in 2014, and Henry had long been seen as the prohibitive favorite once he grabbed the lead from LSU’s Leonard Fournette in a head-to-head victory in SEC play. But some will suggest this was a tight race for the Heisman, and the voting results between the top three finalists (Henry, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson) would back that up. So what’s the deal?
Are we simply placing less emphasis on the Heisman Trophy when there are already so many other awards out there to fill up our timelines? Are we turned off by an hour and a half show? Is it something about the players? Feel free to share your reactions and thoughts in the comment section below and maybe we can figure this one out together.
Did you watch this year’s Heisman Trophy presentation? Did you watch the full 90-minute show, or just the final 10 minutes? Also, what would you do to turn this trend around for the Heisman Trophy, if anything can be done?