The regular season is complete, data has been compiled, and eyeballs have been calculated. The Pac-12 performed exactly as you’d expect in the TV ratings game: no better or worse than in years past.
At least as per the standard applicable here on the hotline.
According to ratings data taken from the SportsMediaWatch database, the conference participated in five games that attracted at least 4 million viewers during the 2021 regular season.
(Why 4 million? Because in our view, that limit separates Pac-12 games with coast-to-coast resonance from those with only strong regional appeal.)
This overall is better than the conference’s performance in 2019 and equals the number of 4-million-viewer games generated in 2018.
We also didn’t bother with last season, which was one-sided in many ways: from delayed start and cancellation times to adjusted kickoff times and the widespread impact of COVID on viewership throughout the game.
Here are the Pac-12 regular-season games, which have attracted at least 4 million viewers over the past five (normal) years.
7.9 million: USC vs. Alabama; 5.7 million: Washington v. Colorado (Pac-12 Champion Game); 5.7 million: Notre Dame at USC; 4.3 million: USC in Washington; 4.2 million: Oregon vs Nebraska
5.3 million: Notre Dame at Stanford; 4.9 million: Texas at USC; 4.0 million: UCLA at USC
7.7 million: Notre Dame at USC; 5.3 million: Washington v. Auburn; 4.2 million: Stanford in Oregon; 4.1 million: Washington in Washington State; 4.1 million: Washington v. Utah (Pac-12 Champion Game)
6.9 million: Oregon vs. Auburn; 5.9 million: Oregon v. Utah (Pac-12 Champion Game); 4.1 million: Oregon in the state of Arizona
7.7 million: Oregon in the state of Ohio; 4.8 million: Oregon in Utah; 4.7 million: Washington in Michigan; 4.5 million: Texas A&M vs. Colorado; 4.2 million: Utah vs. Oregon (Pac-12 Champion Game)
Before we address team-specific data, a piece of context:
Having five games with at least 4 million viewers cannot be compared to other Power Five conventions.
For example, the SEC had eight games this season with over 6 million viewers, and the Big Ten had seven. Meanwhile, the Big 12 had three games worth over 5 million.
But that’s what we should expect, given the population and passion within the Pac-12 footprint and average level of the game in recent years. Fans watch games that affect the college football playoffs, and of late the Pac-12 has been a precious few.
As far as team numbers are concerned…
During those five seasons, the Pac-12 produced 21 games above the 4 million mark.
Oregon was involved in eight, followed by USC and Washington with six each, then Utah with four.
The Ducks’ success in the ratings game is a result of their appeal both regionally and nationally; their performance on the field, leading to participation in important sports; and his desire to play the role of marquee non-convention enemies (Auburn and Ohio State).
But the numbers underscore an important point that affects every aspect of Pac-12 football:
Because of their tradition, resources, and brand appeal, USC, Oregon and Washington are the programs best suited for success.
The conference requires them to be relevant on the national scene continuously and concurrently.
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