As an avid football fan, I (rightly or wrongly) try to find business lessons in football. As I watched a great National Championship game Monday night, two business lessons came to mind as I was alone on my couch and then tossing in bed during the three-hour wind down period caused by a miraculous substitution, missed field goals, and an improbable touchdown throw on second and long.
First, numbers are deceiving, and in business, using the wrong metric or indicator can be misleading. I stumbled across this idea when I looked around at halftime and realized I was alone; my kids and wife had headed to bed, as it was the middle of the week and school and work beckoned. My household certainly was not alone, and this trend probably increases heavily outside of Alabama and Georgia, where passion is replaced with mild interest.
Regardless of how many people are or are not watching in the house, the number of households watching remains one. Yet the number of households watching the game is the key metric. What is missed by using this number is that if my whole household watched, four more people would have engaged with the brand. That’s a huge increase in brand engagement (engagement, of course, being the buzzword du jour of marketing). That meaningful metric decreased because the wrong metric — households — is used to determine television success.
What that metric misses is who in the household is watching the game, and for the National Championship game that is not insignificant. Who was asleep? My wife, who controls most of the household purchases and is a target for any marketer. Also asleep? My kids. Thus, instead of 5 people watching, you had 1. If your advertisers are paying for eyeballs, they got ripped off at my household.
But the larger issue is not the television metric. The larger issue is the people who were not watching: namely, my children, who are the future of the sport. While one of the greatest games was played, they slept. Additionally, while exceptions to the Kids Do Not Stay Up For Football Rule may have flourished in Alabama and Georgia, letting your kids stay up for random games is not good parenting. But the college powers that be believe that they are working for television advertisers. So they stay on a night that gets presumably higher ratings (albeit extremely misleading) to appease advertisers. College football works first for the school, then for the fans.
Every fan you talk to wants this game played on the weekend. Saturdays and college football go hand in hand. Yet, they are missing it. Short term gain, but long term disinterest.
So in short, I say this to the college powers that be: MOVE THE GAME TO SATURDAY AND CREATE A CULTURAL EVENT LIKE THE SUPER BOWL OR CONTINUE TO DWELL IN DWINDLING RATINGS LAND.