Wednesday December 6, 2023

Deion Sanders Reshaping College Football Fanbase With Buffaloes Surge

  • Black TV viewership is ‘dramatically higher’ when tuning into Buffaloes 3-0 start.
  • Colorado is drawing a national audience similar to Notre Dame.
Deion Sanders and The Rock
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
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Deion Sanders’ transformation of the Colorado Buffaloes is the talk of the sports world. But there’s one story angle gaining more attention—namely, Coach Prime’s impact on Black TV audiences.

Many Black sports fans who casually watched college football are all-in on his 3-0 Buffs. 

Sanders has turned Colorado into “Black America’s Team,” wrote Clinton Yates of Andscape.  

The stats back him up over the first three weeks of the season:

  • Black viewers made up 25% of the audience for ESPN’s telecast of Colorado’s wild 43-35 win over Colorado State in Week 3, tweeted Flora Kelly, ESPN vice president of research. That’s up from 19% for the window’s average last season. Also, 31% of the audience was female vs. 29% for last season. And only 14% of the viewers came from the Pacific Time Zone vs. 24% last year. That indicates the Buffs are a national draw, like Notre Dame or the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Fox Sports televised Colorado’s first two games this season. Both rated “dramatically higher” in Black TV households, tweeted Mike Mulvihill, Fox’s president of insights and analytics. He wrote that Colorado’s season-opening win over TCU rated 70% higher in Black households. Their Week 2 win over Nebraska rated 79% higher. 
  • Despite a 10 p.m. ET kickoff, Saturday’s Colorado vs. CSU grudge match was the most-watched college football game of the season so far, averaging 9.3 million viewers. That made it ESPN’s most-watched late prime time game ever. And its fifth-best on record.

Meanwhile, Boulder, Colorado, has become Hollywood West, attracting Black celebrities and personalities such as The Rock, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe, and rappers Lil Wayne and the members of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan. 

As Axios’ Russell Contreras wrote: “Not since the Los Angeles Raiders of the 1980s or Michigan’s men’s basketball team, The Fab Five of the 1990s has a team captivated Black America and hip-hop culture like the Buffs have so far.”

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Sanders has no problem with his program being dubbed “Black America’s” team.

“It’s tremendous. It’s not a burden whatsoever. It’s a blessing,” he told Yates after beating Colorado State. “And we’re thankful for that.”

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