Big 12 markets rank strongly in college sports viewership

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Having teams competing for national championships helped Big 12 markets rank highly in a detailed study of Nielsen television ratings for specific major sports events developed by the Houston Chronicle.

The Chronicle's study indicated that the Big 12 had no "home markets" that were classified among the top 10 for overall sports viewership among the 56 major metered markets in the country. In fact, the conference had the worst market for sports viewership in Houston and three others in the bottom 15.

But for college sports, Big 12 markets ranked highly -- mainly because Oklahoma played Florida in the recent FedEx BCS National Championship Game and Kansas defeated Memphis for the NCAA men's basketball championship.

Oklahoma City ranked No. 1 nationally with a 52.6 Nielsen rating for the BCS title game and Tulsa was second at 47.8. Austin, Texas, was seventh for the Oklahoma-Florida game with a 30.3 rating.

Kansas City ranked second nationally among Nielsen metered markets for the NCAA men's basketball final with a 33.7 rating. Oklahoma City was third at 26.0 and Tulsa was seventh at 19.6.

The study shows that markets such as Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Austin, where college sports have been predominant for many years, carry that appeal when conference rivals are playing for national championships.

One other number might make the marketers for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State smile a little bit. The fledgling Oklahoma City Thunder, the state's only big-league franchise, ranks 23rd among the 30 NBA franchises in Nielsen average with 1.3 for their games.