Big 12 to show live conference highlights in-stadium

Brett Deering

The Big 12 wants to enhance the stadium experience to address declining attendance figures, and this is one way they plan to do it.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced Monday that live highlights of conference games will be shown in league stadiums beginning with the 2013 season. It's an effort to provide more incentive for fans to buy tickets and attend games in person. Like the rest of college football, the Big 12 has seen its average attendance decline steadily in recent years.

The Big 12 has endured attendance declines in each of the last five years, though Bowlsby did offer a positive take on the situation:

"We feel like our attendance has remained relatively strong," Bowlsby said Monday to kick off Big 12 Media Days, saying the conference has played to 85 percent capacity. "But nationwide, we're seeing ... numbers declining.

"I think bringing highlights in will take into account and help one of the things that is getting to be a challenge for us."

Attendance from 2011 to 2012 was largely stagnant, with nine of 10 schools seeing increases or decreases of three percent or less. TCU is the exception within the conference and nationally, as it saw a 37 percent increase over 2011. That's a special case, though -- the Horned Frogs opened an expanded stadium, and it was their first season in the conference, which added excitement.

Attendance decline isn't just a Big 12 problem, or a college football problem -- it's a problem the NFL and the other professional leagues face, too. The improved quality of televisions and television coverage are just a couple of the things working against the stadium experience.

The average attendance in college football last season was the lowest since 2003. Eight BCS teams endured attendance drops of more than 10 percent from 2011 to 2012, and even schools in the midst of strong seasons weren't immune. Florida's attendance, for example, was down two percent last year.

These trends have Bowlsby and others thinking more creatively. Back in March, Bowlsby spoke about a desire to add WiFi to every Big 12 stadium, and also mentioned the possibility of live feeds of other games. The NFL in 2011 directed its teams to show live fantasy football stats on their scoreboards during games, and the league has made further enhancements since then.

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