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Austin Is Now a Top 50 TV Market: And That Matters To The Big 12

Austin is officially a top 50 Nielsen TV Market (#49). The Market rankings were released last week for the 2008-09 season. It used to be a significant number for local stations, in that the Top 50 was a breaking point for large institutional buyers. Today, not so much, although it can't hurt. But it matters to the Big 12, and to those who buy ads on college football broadcasts, not only because Austin is in the Top 50, but because of who makes up the Austin market.

As viewers are pulled in more and more directions (cable, internet, youtube, etc) broadcasts networks are finding that while they still get the largest audiences, they are also getting the oldest. For the first time, the average viewer for the major major networks can join AARP. And for most advertisers, the 50+ crowd is already dead to them.

As Baby Boomers continue to outlive previous generations, the advertisers still want to find the elusive, mobile, and loaded with discretionary income, 18-49 demo. What they really want to latch on to are men 18-34.

This man is #1 on the Most Wanted lists for NFL and College Football advertisers.

Men in the 18-49 demo, and more importantly in the 18-34 demo have the income, and the disposition to spend it that advertisers love. The 18-34 demo has a lot of foks making $60,000-$99,000. They have home theatre systems, stock portfolios, I-phones, PDA's, and they like to go out to eat and drink.

And 94% of them consider themselves sports fans.

Austin is not only home to UT, but home to a highly coveted target demo for media advertisers.

Almost 70% of the population in Austin is 20-54, with 34% of the population 20-34. The median age 29.6 in Austin, and the median income, $43,731, with 40% of that age group holding at least one college degree.

Men 18-34 are consuming differently than previous generations, but football, specifically the NFL and college football, is one area that will pull them to the TV set, either at home are in a sports bar.

Reaching that demo is what the TV contracts are all about, and it is the Big 12 South that has better opportunities to deliver those men to TV sets. First, a list of the "Primary" TV markets that are home to the Big 12 athletic programs.

Big 12 South TV Markets
45. Oklahoma City (Norman & Stillwater)
49. Austin
94. Waco/Temple/Bryan (Aggies even have to share their market with the Bears)
143. Lubbock

I have to put up a caveat for the Big 12 North home markets. Generally the Big 12 North schools are in small, out of the way places, and none are in a Top 50 market where they don't have to share it with any kind of pro competition. For instance, both Colorado and Kansas "home" Markets are larger than anything in the South, but neither has any kind of major footprint in those markets -- especially in football.

Big 12 North TV Markets (primary/home)

18. Denver-Boulder (Obviously a pro market. Hell if you have ever been to Boulder, you know the Buffs are often an afterthought even there.)
31. Kansas City (Huge NFL town. KU basketball is as strong a pull as football here).
71. Des Moines-Ames
106. Lincoln-Hastings (Obviously the Cornhuskers own the state, and Omaha comes in at #76).
137. Columbia-Jefferson City (Mizzou and Kansas split up whatever college audience there is in KC).
138. Topeka/Manhattan

It is in the secondary markets where the South holds an advantage, and a main reason why the Big 8 was willing to merge with elements of the SWC).

Big 12 South Secondary Markets

5. DFW (Cowboys dominate, but both Texas and A&M can draw decent enough numbers)
10. Houston
37. San Antonio
61. Tulsa

Big 12 North Secondary Markets

21. St. Louis (heavy pro sports, especially baseball)
31. Kansas City

That's it in terms of Top 100 markets.

While Big 12 South teams have larger markets where they can have an impact, it is still about deliverables and not just potential TV viewers. A lot of Horn fans cheered when the Texas A&M-Arkansas State score was flashed on the Jumbotron, but it doesn't make it an easier for the Big 12 to remain as viable a TV option for that 18-34 target demo.