Richmond Times-Dispatch

February 4, 2016

by John O'Connor

UR, JMU appearance on ESPN's GameDay worth millions

How much did ESPN's “College GameDay” visit to James Madison University on Oct. 24 before the Dukes' CAA Football game against the University of Richmond mean to the schools?

About $3 million apiece in overall exposure value, according to two studies.

UR commissioned Joyce Julius & Associates, Inc., a research firm based in Michigan, to perform a study that concluded the total public relations value to Richmond was about $2.8 million. UR's direct exposure time on “College GameDay” was responsible for about $1.8 million of that, according to the report.

“Joyce Julius is a very reputable company in doing this,” said Keith Gill, Richmond's director of athletics. “I have worked with them previously. They've done a lot of work in the college space. I do think their findings are legitimate.”

JMU conducted its own study, which found an overall media value of about $3.6 million. Madison used methodology that differs from that employed by Joyce Julius.

When Madison went through a recent search for a new football coach, “the majority of those candidates talked about the show. ‘College GameDay' impacted their impression of JMU,” said Jeff Bourne, the JMU athletics director. “It changed the game for how the outside world views James Madison University, and it helps us immensely in our push to make JMU a nationally relevant university.”

“College GameDay” is a pregame program that airs from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday mornings during the season and features a regular cast of ESPN analysts who discuss a range of college football topics. The show, whose producer is JMU graduate Lee Fitting, typically originates from the campus of an FBS school playing a game of national interest.

In recent years, “College GameDay” commonly made an annual stop at an FCS school. ESPN's analysts blend a preview of a highlighted FCS game into the national discussion. JMU was 7-0 and ranked No. 4 in the FCS. Richmond, ranked No. 11, beat the Dukes 59-49 before a record crowd of 26,069 at Bridgeforth Stadium on homecoming.

“It was extraordinary in terms of the impact that I think (‘College GameDay') had for FCS football, and for our league, and then maybe for us,” said Richmond coach Danny Rocco.

“We happened to be the team that stole the show that day. That's awesome. But it was bigger than that.”

JMU estimated 12,000 people viewed the show's broadcast from the school's Quad. The primary exposure value came through the TV audience of about 66 million, JMU's viewership estimate, who saw team logos, heard discussion of JMU and UR, and absorbed other imagery related to the schools.

Joyce Julius calculated exposure time UR received at 33:27 on “College GameDay.” The report said the associated value of about $1.8 million for UR was determined by Recognition Grade methodology that “takes into account elements such as size of the identity, screen position, brand clutter and any applicable brand integration.”

The report included a greater exposure value that doesn't involve Recognition Grade methodology.

When UR on-screen time and school mentions are compared to the 30-second commercial rate of “College GameDay,” a UR exposure value of $3.9 million from the show alone was realized, according to Joyce Julius.

Also detailed in the study were the values of newspaper stories, TV news programming, and internet reports and mentions that focused on the “College GameDay” appearance at Madison.

“Certainly the media dollar value and other research data point to tremendous exposure for our university,” Bourne said.

“However, beyond that, it has opened so many new doors in terms of new prospective donors, recruiting impact, fan engagement and overall school pride.

“I suspect we will continue to feel the impact well into the future.”

According to JMU, Oct. 24 visits to the jmu homepage compared to the previous Saturday increased 320 percent, clicks on “Request information” increased 257 percent, and clicks on “Schedule a visit” increased 163 percent.

Joyce Julius was hired by UR so the school could examine “another metric that shows how valuable athletics is to the University of Richmond, in terms of these types of exposure opportunities, and the breadth of that exposure, particularly on ESPN,” Gill said...