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Beginning to Look into College Football Attendance

With fall fast approaching we turn to analyses of football. Since high school football
is played on Friday nights, college on Saturdays, and the NFL on Sundays, we follow
that order of presentation and let the big boys headline the publication of findings.

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Overall, college football has yielded a trend of declining game interest across a
variety of indicators. Total attendance across all tracked Division I teams (N = 254)
has declined from 43,986,352 in 2013 to 41,284,179 in 2017, or 74.7% of total
stadium capacity to 71.7%. Average attendance has also decreased in that period
from 27,507 to 26,362 as has median attendance (17,492 in 2013 to 16,567 in

Week over week variance increased from 2013 to 2016, but suddenly dropped
below 2013 levels in 2017. It’s too soon to know whether last year’s dip is in
inflection point of bucking the trend, but if variance stays low as attendance
continues to decline, this suggests that even popular teams are having trouble
drawing a crowd and not even experiential luxury is enough of a draw. With
increasing coverage of CTE and brain injury as a result of football, sports fans may
be turning their attention elsewhere. If an examination of NFL football yields similar
declines there may be a fair amount of truth to this hypotheses. Stay tuned for our
next post about the attendance performance of individual NCAA football teams.


Year Attendance Capacity Attendance % Average Standard Deviation Minimum Median Variance
2013 43,986,352 58,894,065 74.69% 27,509 26,618.4 0 17,492 709,000,000
2014 43,467,801 58,416,116 74.41% 27,167 26,721.3 0 17,247 714,000,000
2015 42,381,834 56,954,457 74.41% 27,220 27,160.3 0 17,444 738,000,000
2016 41,860,825 58,035,626 72.13% 26,834 27,333.3 0 16,883 747,000,000
2017 41,284,179 57,565,190 71.72% 26,363 26,528.3 0 16,567 704,000,000

The NFL preseason has started, and the college football season is only a few weeks away, so be sure to check out a FanWide game watch party at a local bar or restaurant.