Each of the five FBS conferences outside of the Power Five will play a reasonably full midweek schedule in 2023. As Underdog Dynasty noted earlier this week, the MAC has 23 on the schedule while C-USA has 19 and the AAC has 11. The Sun Belt will have a few as well with more Mountain West contest expected to be moved to midweek slots later.
Clearly, not everyone is excited about it.
In our most recent SB Nation Reacts Survey, we asked how readers felt about the uptick in contests being scheduled outside of Saturday. Only 43% of readers indicated that they want more G5 football games during the work week.
Let’s Think About This
There are positives and negatives to this situation. On the positive side, this latest round of media deal gives certain programs significantly more visibility than before. It’s understandable to believe that fans that don’t have the ability to attend games regularly would rather see their team compete on a network like ESPN2 or ESPNU, already included in most cable or streaming packages, than have to subscribe to an additional service, no matter what day of the week it is.
For the schools, the benefits have been discussed quite a bit in recent months. The financial benefits of switching to a broadcast partner like ESPN are apparent, particularly for Conference USA. On one of the last episodes of our dearly departed Underdog Pawdcast, FIU athletic director Scott Carr had this to say about midweek games:
“When we approached the new TV deal, as Athletic Directors we want our cake and eat it too. But we said number one is exposure and number two is revenue...They were able to accomplish that...Those midweek games will be on ESPN and CBS networks, so we’ll get some great exposure there.”
Carr went on to say how the exposure C-USA AD’s can be partially achieved with the new slate of midweek games.
“You’d love to play traditional Saturday evening games and be on the largest TV network you could possibly be...But there are a lot of eyeballs on you when you’re not playing on Saturday. Saturdays, there are so many great games that people can choose from you can get kind of lost in the shuffle even if you’re playing a great opponent in a great game.”
While that’s all well and good, even though College Football has the most avid fan base in the United States, they have other priorities. According to Learfield’s 2021 Intercollegiate Fan Report: “Overall, 38% of Known Fans have children under age 18, which is slightly under the US population percentage of 40%, per the 2020 US Census data. In the age bracket of 45-54 years, 56% of Known Fans have children at home.”
Being a parent is difficult and plenty of obligations of being a parent during the weeknight evenings. Then there’s evening traffic in large cities, folks who are committed to weeknight church services, the list goes on. The point is, it’s understandable that people are concerned they would miss their favorite team due to commitments that take precedence.