Nielsen: Affluent College Football Fans Attractive to Luxury Brands

As the college football championship playoffs near, Nielsen points to data showing that not only is college football one of the nation’s most popular sports, but its fans have the buying power to make it attractive to luxury advertisers.

Overall, college football broadcasts reached more than 159 million people during the 2016 regular season, up 3% from 2015. That compares to just under 200 million viewers who tuned into the NFL during 2015.

According to the Nielsen Sponsorlink study, college football fans are 23% more likely to make more than $70,000 a year and are 11% more likely to be college graduates than the general population.

College football fans are also 30% more likely to own a business and 19% more likely to have investable assets worth more than $150,000. Fans are 42% more likely to take action after seeing a sponsorship.

During the 2016 season, 58 million college football viewers lived in a household with an income of $100,000 or more, up from 51.5 million in 2015.

Despite the affluent demography, Nielsen found that of the top 10 brands advertising on TV during regular season college football games—which together spent $152 million—most of the advertisers were in non-luxury categories, including quick-service restaurants, telecom services and autos and trucks.

Nielsen says that creates an opportunity. “Knowing how to reach a diverse, activated and upscale viewer could help marketers—of luxury brands and beyond—up their own 'scores' by crafting their messages to an audience that is willing, and ready, to listen,” according to Nielsen.

College football fans are 48% more likely to have travelled and stayed overnight to attend a sporting event.

Nearly half of all college football viewers this season were female (77.5 million) and 28.7 million were those millennials—age 18 to 34—that advertisers love to reach.

According to Nielsen Scarborough data, more than 102 million adults identify themselves as college football fans. While fans can be found from coast to coast, the highest concentration of fans is in the South and Midwest. In the Birmingham market, where Alabama and Auburn rooters reside, nearly 70% of the population identifies itself as college gridiron fans.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.