Much is written about “guarantee” games in college athletics, when there’s a payment arrangement between schools. For instance, when Middle Tennessee played at #2 Georgia in September, the Blue Raiders lost 49-7. But the “guarantee” paid to MTSU by Georgia was $1.7 million.

You can find those payout dollar figures anywhere. But what interests me is the value of the eyeballs watching and of the discussion. And there are few stages that bring as many eyeballs and as much discussion as playing Notre Dame in football.


Ball State opened its football season on the first Thursday of the year and smashed Central Connecticut State 42-6. The next week, the MAC school played at Notre Dame on NBC.

Those two games are not the same.

Since 1991, Notre Dame has famously played its home football games on NBC. That’s massive national exposure. But past that, I was interested in what playing Notre Dame in football does for media coverage. What’s the exposure worth? How much bigger is a game against the Irish than say, a game against Western Kentucky?

Well, Ball State has played both of those schools and I took some time to measure the media value of each game.


Using media monitoring and social listening software, I performed a Boolean search of  “Notre Dame” searching for mentions containing Ball State-related keywords. I listened for mentions between Sept. 5-11, covering 3 days before and after the Indiana schools played.

Search-Term-Screenshots PM

I searched news outlets, broadcast and social media. Mentions needed to have Notre Dame and at least one of the terms on the right.


This search, over a 7-day period (the gameday and 3 days on each side), yielded the following exposure:

Advertising Value Equivalency: $13.943 million
News & Broadcast Mentions: 1,163
Cumulative Reach: 1.476 billion
Social Media Mentions: 2,354

bsu-notre_dame-media-mentionsI don’t love advertising value equivalency, as it’s falling out of style in modern media measurements, but it’s useful here to show how massive a deal playing football against Notre Dame can be. Especially when you compare it to…


Two weeks after playing Notre Dame tough in a 24-16 loss, the Cardinals hosted Western Kentucky. A BSU-WKU tilt, using the same search with “Western Kentucky” subbed for “Notre Dame” yielded this exposure:

Advertising Value Equivalency: $1.678 million
News & Broadcast Mentions: 280
Cumulative Reach: 181.36 million
Social Media Mentions: 489

Most importantly, this doesn’t include the 3 hours of branded love a team gets on NBC’s Notre Dame production. These are news mentions, so the additional exposure received by playing on NBC would further add to the difference. The Notre Dame-Ball State telecast scored a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 2.473 million, and the Western Kentucky-Ball State game was streamed on ESPN3. Playing Notre Dame – and playing well as Ball State did that day – is worth a pot o’ gold in media exposure.


If you want to get really into the mentions and data, feel free to download the Notre Dame mentions I pulled HERE and the Western Kentucky mentions HERE. I’m happy to share any more thoughts on this subject, and if you’re interested in similar analysis for your school, give me a shout on, Linked In or email me: jmrattray at gmail dot com.


Thanks to whoever has checked out my sports PR podcast, dubbed Media Overflow. I’ve published 6 episodes so far, with a special MLB Playoffs edition coming and then a batch of sportswriter PTP’ers to launch in time for the beginning of college basketball. Even if you’re not a sports information type, you may enjoy the behind the curtain discussion, especially in my episode with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic.


I just finished James Andrew Miller’s Origins podcast about SNL Season 44, and it made me think of this gag from a couple years ago. It’ll be funny forever.

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