Ad Age story: College football could overtake MLB as nation’s No. 2 sport; CF more popular with younger crowd

On the eve of the big game, Michael McCarthy writes in Advertising Age that college football is rapidly closing the gap on baseball as the nation’s No. 2 sport behind the NFL.

McCarthy offers several sets of numbers, including this passage:

Other research indicates the Grand Old Game is still No. 2. But the power and pageantry of college football is grabbing younger consumers. Numbers are trending in the direction of college football.

In the latest Harris Poll, 16% of adults cited baseball as their favorite sport, compared to 11% for college football. Baseball’s actually up three points from last year, when the two sports were tied at 13% while college football dropped two points. But since Harris started tracking America’s favorite sports in 1985, college football has gained 1%, while baseball has gone down 7%.

Here’s the kicker in my eyes.

College football was most popular with the 18-to-24-year-old demo and Southerners, according to Harris. Baseball was most popular with 50-to-64-year-olds and Midwesterners. The online poll was conducted from Dec. 12-18, 2012.

I can speak from first-hand experience. My two teenage boys devour college football. They can’t wait to watch tonight’s game. When we came home from our winter vacation, they promptly parked themselves on the couch and watched all the bowl games they recorded on the DVR. It made this father proud.

While they like the Cubs and White Sox, they barely tuned in for baseball’s postseason. Game 3 of the World Series was played on a Saturday night. They could care less. All the boys wanted to watch were games involving Notre Dame and Michigan that night. The same holds true for their friends. Baseball barely registers compared to the NFL and college football.

Clearly, the Harris poll shows that baseball’s popularity skews toward the older crowd. And not to push anyone out the door, let alone myself, but once the older generation moves on, the game is going to suffer if it can’t reach the younger fans like my kids.

Poll numbers only tell part of the story. In my house, and I’m sure in many others, college football already has overtaken baseball.






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