Colorado brings another major market into the Big 12 family
Sure, Colorado football has been awful since it left the Big 12. But in the world of conference realignment and billion-dollar media rights deals, success on the field doesn’t matter as much as eyeballs on the T.V. do.
Naturally, the more successful a program is, the better the ratings will be but first, there has to be a viable market for a university to capture. In other words, it is more important for a program to be in a major population center than it is for that program to be dominating on the field, at least in the eyes of most media executives.
Sure, blue-blood programs such as Alabama might be able to draw national interest due to their history and their significance in the sport despite not being in a major market but ultimately, TV markets are driving realignment. Houston, UCF, Cincinnati, and BYU are coming into the Big 12 this year not because they have dominated on the field but because they have influence in centers of populations (or in the case of BYU, across the nation).
According to StationIndex.com, the Denver market is No. 18 in the U.S. That means that by next summer, the Big 12 will have added schools in the No. 10 market (Houston), No. 18 market, and No. 19 market (Orlando) as well as one with a national audience (BYU).
By 2030, the population of Colorado is expected to top 6 million people with the vast majority of that number located in the Denver area or along the I-25 corridor where CU garners almost all of the college sports attention. What’s more, by 2050, the population of the Denver metro area alone is expected to be nearly 4.5 million.
While those numbers aren’t going to put the Mile High City or Colorado in the same category as Dallas, Houston, or other huge markets, Denver is a large enough market for conferences to covet and the fact that the Big 12 will have a foothold there moving forward with the flagship program of the state is no small development.