Turning TVs into tickets
Boise didn’t help change BC’s travel reputation, but it confirmed that BC is a very good TV draw. Gene D and the athletic department need to start pitching this aspect of our team now. We pleasantly surprised Jefferson-Pilot this season with our TV performance. ESPN knows that BC is one of the non-marquee teams that improves ratings. Bowl organizers should hear it again and again this offseason. Ticket sales count first, but telling your title sponsor that the ratings surpassed forecasts doesn’t hurt.
Now some might interpret these ratings as confirmation that our fans care enough to watch but are too fickle to travel to less desirable bowls. I see it differently. The Wall Street Journal wrote about Bowl ratings [sorry, subscription] and unexpectedly some of the best traveling teams (Tennessee, West Virginia, LSU) were ratings drags on bowl games. The Journal’s article was far from scientific and pointed to TV markets as a big factor. I think TV markets remain the biggest factor, but there is something else to the ratings decline. Perhaps the ratings drop with these "travel schools" because all their fans are at the game! So if our total audience is bigger than WVU’s or LSU’s is there any reason to think we can’t nurture our fan base and get more people to travel? I don’t think we can ever bring out the numbers that say Tennessee can, but 75% of what they sell is not too much to ask. It can be done. I just think it is going to take a grass roots effort from our Athletic Department and a tweak of the spin our fans are hearing now.
There is no simple solution to improving our travel rep. The TV numbers show that people care. Getting them to care enough to travel is the next step.