Ranking the “Best” Football Fans in the Big 10: Buckeyes are on Top!

We are presenting a series ranking the “best” fan bases in college football.  The study uses data from the past ten years and the rankings are based on Revenue Premium Brand Equity.  For more information on the analysis/methodology, please click here.

As a conference, the Big 10 finished second only to the SEC in overall football brand equity.  The conference added Nebraska in 2011, and will add Maryland and Rutgers in 2014.  The Big Ten has been very successful at creating a network that capitalizes on the appeal of its members.  This fan appeal is also manifested in the top three schools in our rankings; all three schools have football stadiums with capacities over 100,000, and are regularly sold out.

The Ohio State University finished in first place in our ranking of Big 10 fan bases.  In the ten year period of our study, the Buckeyes averaged 2.5 more wins per season than Penn State and Michigan, but also generated 20% more revenue.  Remarkably, Ohio State made this revenue with fewer fans in attendance, on average, than Penn State or Michigan.

Penn State very narrowly edged out Michigan for second place in our study.  Over the course of the study, Penn State and Michigan averaged almost the same number of wins (Michigan had more) and football revenue per year.  However, Penn State’s second place ranking may be short-lived.  The last couple of years have seen a decline in attendance.  This may, of course, in part be due to the recent scandal and sanctions at Penn State.

Indiana and Northwestern are at the bottom of the Big 10 fan base rankings.  Indiana seems to suffer from the same issue faced by Kansas or Duke.  That is, how do you build football brand equity in a “basketball school”?  Northwestern is an interesting case.  A comparison with in-state “rival” Illinois (ranked 8th) is quite revealing.  In the period our study, Northwestern averaged 1-2 more wins per season than Illinois.  However, Illinois average 88% of capacity attendance, while Northwestern averaged 62%.  Illinois also produced 30% more football revenue than the Wildcats.

Michael Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2013.

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Dynamic Pricing to Extract Revenue from Visiting Fans?

The shift towards dynamic pricing continues.  This article describes Northwestern University’s approach to dynamic pricing.  The big idea in NU’s system is that prices will start high and then be decreased until the season ticket price is hit or until tickets are sold.  Winning buyers will then pay the lowest prices (i.e. if I buy at $300 per ticket and the section sells out at $150, then I pay $150).

Northwestern’s approach is interesting as prices drop over time and because the high price buyer has a bit of protection against over paying.  We do have a couple of observations.  First, these two consumer friendly features limit the value that NU can extract for the dynamic pricing.  From a firm’s point of view, the most efficient form of price discrimination is where consumers all pay their reservation (maximum) prices.  The NU system does provide a push to get consumers to buy quickly since the supply of tickets is limited.  This is, of course, an important part of any dynamic pricing scheme in that it always helps if supply is limited.

We do, however, believe that something else is really driving this foray into dynamic pricing.  The two games in the Purple Pricing plan are Ohio State and Michigan.  Our guess is that this program is mainly designed to extract maximum revenue from these visiting fans rather than from the Wildcat faithful.

Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University, 2013.

Chris Collins headed to Northwestern, not Minnesota

Reports this morning have Chris Collins accepting the head coach position at Northwestern over the same position at Minnesota.  Based on our Big Ten Brand Equity Rankings, this seems to be a mistake.  Minnesota is ranked second in the Big 10, while Northwestern is ranked 8th.  Greater brand equity means higher fan loyalty and more revenue in the athletic department.  This money can be used for better facilities and for recruiting.  Chris Collins seems to be eschewing brand equity in order to return to his hometown.