Tom Herman wants to play the Aggies. Do you?

Posted by    |    July 19th, 2017 at 4:24 pm

I want to take the pulse on this. Herman said he’d like to play the Aggies at the recent Big 12 media days. The extent to which that is posturing for the media (generally a coach isn’t going to respond “No, I won’t play Team X, I’m actually quite fearful”) or an actual goal is unknown, but Herman seemed pretty sincere. The question is whether he actively pushes for it with a caretaker Athletic Director.

There are more than a few folks who will need to sign off on it to make it happen. But what about the fans?

On the Longhorn side, the fan perspective was resoundingly “hell no” in the wake of A&M’s departure and their administration’s disingenuous misrepresentations about the whats and whys of why they did so back in 2011. Since then, the SEC’s intrusions into Texas – multi-factorial in origin and predictable as they were – also hasn’t made us too thrilled. The 2017 Thinking Texas Football Longhorn preview has a pretty damn good write up on that point, if I don’t mind saying so myself.

Here’s why the Aggies did it: The SEC was a great deal. Full stop.

Everything else – Texas is mean, revenue sharing fictions, the LHN, a cabal of Burnt Orange media and national sympathizers holding A&M down etc – was self-rationalizing nonsense for a fanbase that embraces martyrdom and breathes victimhood like oxygen, at least as it pertains to Texas.

Since then, I think the Don’t Play A&M stance has softened a bit. At least among some Longhorn faithful. In my experience, there’s a bit of disconnect between larger pocket book alumni (more for it) and the regular folks (more against it). But I don’t know. We’re all susceptible to echo chambers and I’d like to hear different voices.

The Aggies are generally for renewing the game. The game has traditionally formed an integral part of their identity and its absence has made some hearts grow fonder. They’ve lost a shared rallying point and cultural touchstone. And some of the disappointments in the wake of the Manziel bubble have made them cast about for a rallying point.

I argued in 2011 that the SEC move was good for the Aggies. Not just in athletics. Not just because the Big 12 is a bad, futureless conference. Because it allowed them to formulate an identity outside of being reflexively anti-Texas. Part of A&M’s normalization and their transformation from parochial military school to respected state university has been cultivating an Aggie identity that has nothing to with us and everything to do with them. This was a continuation of that evolution. It’s healthy for them.

Maybe bringing back the game is harmless good fun.

Or maybe it confirms Texas as a forgiving, complacent patsy that never wields any of the power it claims to hold and will always sell out its fanbase for a dollar and recasts Texas A&M back in their role as sniping, resentful little brother, a part that they should have long outgrown.

Nielsen Gives ESPN a Break – Starts Out-of-Home Ratings Service

Posted by    |    July 19th, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Viewing numbers for live events are about to increase dramatically. 

Starting this fall ESPN, and other sports networks, will get a boost in their bottom line ratings as Nielsen starts counting viewers outside their homes. The Nielsen National Out-of-Home Reporting Service will count TV viewing in such places as restaurants, bars, hotels and gyms.

It couldn’t come at a better time for ESPN as it fights against cord cutting and diminishing advertising dollars. Nielsen will have 77,000 Portable People Meters (PPM) out and about this fall. They are about the size of a pager that picks up an audio encoding from a nearby television. Right now ESPN and Fox are the only networks signed up for the service.

Nielsen has had it in place since last fall, and after Fox signed up in June, they reported some additional numbers from NFL games that could give a glimpse of what is to come.

The Thanksgiving game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins last fall averaged 35.1 million viewers – the most-watched regular season NFL game in 11 years. Now Fox says that number was 48.7 million when you add in out-of-home numbers. ESPN also reports that the 40% increase shown in that one game is consistent with what they saw with their Christmas Day NBA schedule.

The NFL saw TV ratings drop 10% overall last year.

There are of course questions that remain about the effectiveness of the new meters. First, the pagers pick up the audio encoding, so if the TV is turned down – no rating. Also, as you might expect, advertisers will have to be persuaded that people are actually watching the commercials. Ad buyers already believe that the out-of-home watchers have been built into the ad rates they pay for live games.

There is also a delay of about a week in the reporting of these numbers. But if they hold up over time, you can expect to see more Friday night games, traditionally, with Saturday, the least-watched evenings of the week.

The 2006 Rose Bowl BCS championship game remains the gold standard for college football TV ratings. Texas’ win over USC pulled in 35.6 million viewers. If the out-of-home numbers are used, this year’s game will surpass that number.