Last year the NFL gave out over $226 million to each of the 32 teams before they sold a single ticket -- thanks mainly to the $7 billion a year the league collects from its TV partners.
A quick look at the most popular sports programs in the 10th largest TV market shows how those numbers got that big, and there is little inclination to think it will stop growing.
David Barron covers sports media for the Houston Chronicle and Thursday he came out with the list of the 100 most-watched sports programs in 2015.
An astounding 73 of the top 100 sports programs were from the NFL. Obviously the Houston Texans are a major draw (12 of the Top 20) but the games popularity runs deep. NFL contests hold 39 of the top 40 programs - with only a Houston Rocket playoff game breaking the streak.
As expected, the local pro teams dominated the list, but the top 3 spots were all Super Bowl related. The Kick Off and Post Game shows averaged 1.5 million viewers, while 2.4 million were tuned into the game, making it the #1 rated sports program in Houston.
Only 5 college football games broke into the 100. This season's New Year's Eve semi-finals games (OU-Clemson, Michigan State-Alabama) were at #94 and #91 respectively.
The 2014 semi-finals were played on January 1st. The Alabama-Ohio State game was 73rd, while Oregon-Florida State was the 65th most-watched sports program in Houston in 2015.
The Championship game between Ohio State and Oregon finished #45 with 579,000 viewers.
Not a single regular-season college football game cracked the Top 100 in Houston.
Now explain to me again why the Houston Cougars are a viable candidate for expansion into the Big 12?