Broncos reap millions in media exposure from championship season

Contact: Kristin Keirns

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's 2016 undefeated regular Mid-American Conference championship season and Goodyear Cotton Bowl appearance paid major dividends for the University and nationally No. 15-ranked Bronco football program.

This past spring, the MAC sought to better understand the value of its media exposure and the media exposure value of its member institutions. The organization engaged Joyce Julius & Associates Inc., an independent, third-party marketing agency out of Ann Arbor, to conduct the research.

While not every game that WMU participated in was included in the MAC's survey, the analysis of five high points during the season was evaluated. Included in those was the midweek game at Ball State, ESPN College GameDay in Kalamazoo, Toledo at WMU regular season finale, the MAC Championship game and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. All five of these events occurred after the first of November and totaled a media exposure value of nearly $69 million. The biggest value was the Goodyear Cotton Bowl with a price tag of almost $41 million, followed by Toledo at WMU on Nov. 25, which was graded at just over $8.1 million, slightly higher than the MAC Championship game at $6.9 million.

Photo of the 2016 WMU football team.

Research shows five high points during the 2016 season were worth $69 million in media exposure. In addition, WMU football brand awareness is up to 68 percent in West Michigan.

"The 2016 Bronco football season, MAC Championship, national ranking and appearance in a New Year's Six bowl game made for a truly special season that did deliver significant recognition to Kalamazoo and Western Michigan University," said WMU Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard. "Our student-athletes' individual accomplishments, both on and off the field, also brought our community and program great exposure. The values and impressions, as assessed by an independent third party, do demonstrate tangible recognition and value accruing to our University for its investment in Intercollegiate Athletics and Bronco football."

To collect the data, Joyce Julius & Associates used industry best practices and proprietary calculators, gleaning exposure information and values across four mediums: TV game broadcasts, TV news coverage, print media and internet news. Outside of the exposure value summary, Joyce Julius determined the number of "impressions" from the MAC sample size—mentions of WMU throughout the various outlets—at more than 1.1 billion views.

In addition to the survey conducted by the MAC, there were other major moments of the past season which added to the Broncos' value that have been quantified and a few others, including wins over Big Ten opponents Northwestern and Illinois and spending 11-straight weeks in the national polls, whose worth was not determined as a component of this research.

The NFL Draft continued to bring exposure in a big way for Western Michigan after the season was completed. The Broncos boasted three NFL Draft picks—Corey Davis, fifth overall-Nashville; Taylor Moton, second round-Carolina; and Keion Adams, seventh round-Pittsburgh—as well as received coverage for WMU's Campbell Trophy recipient, Zach Terrell. The Campbell Trophy, known as the "Academic Heisman," was presented to Terrell by the National Football Foundation in December.

According to Crain's Detroit Business, Joyce Julius & Associates reported the media exposure of Davis' NFL draft selection, in and of itself, was valued at $15 million. ESPN and the NFL Network offered the University more than 10 minutes of direct attention in on-screen analysis and coverage. More than 220 television programs and 7,300 news articles at the local and national levels across the country alluded to WMU and about 1,800 social media posts offered more exposure throughout the weekend, the news release stated.

One final piece of data collected was in a Brand Perception and Awareness survey conducted by WMU's Office of University Relations, which noted that in the last three months, WMU football slogans and taglines had been heard or seen and recognized by 68 percent of those polled in West Michigan.

"There are several takeaways from the research that has been conducted," Beauregard said. "Athletics is proud to be an outlet to showcase and represent our great University and community. We've been excited for the past several months as we've been at work in pursuit of similar results for the 2017 season. We are extremely proud of these student-athletes for their dedication and it was their commitment to excellence that made this a reality."

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