Most years, the traveling college football pregame show “ESPN College GameDay” sticks to attending top Power 5 football schools, mixing in only one or two lower-division matchups. But this year, the network made a slight adjustment to its typical strategy — and it paid off big.
In a season where “GameDay” visited four first-time locations — two of which were FCS schools, and one of which was a Group of 5 school — the show posted its best regular season viewership in history.
“GameDay” notched its second-highest full-season viewership, including pre-season shows, since launching in 1993.
- “GameDay” averaged 2.1 million viewers.
- Its regular-season average was up 10% from the second-highest previous year.
- Three of its first-time hosts — App State, Montana State, and Kansas — all posted viewerships over the average.
- Jackson State became the first SWAC school to host, and averaged 1.8 million viewers.
The numbers reflect a win-win relationship developed between first-time host schools and the network.
Schools receive what one official described to Front Office Sports as an “immeasurable” marketing boost, which elevates the visibility of the athletic department and the school as a whole.
The surrounding town receives a boost in local economic impact as well. Jackson State, for example, estimated that “GameDay” contributed to a homecoming weekend that raked in $8.9 million for Jackson, Mississippi.