Over at the Ringer, they have an article on Christian McCaffrey and the challenges he faces when it comes to winning the Heisman. It describes several potential issues, primary among them reduced viewers because the games are in the Pacific Time Zone.
“And in the end, what McCaffrey does this year might not matter as much as whether the right people actually see what he does.”
“But there are also a couple of crucial reasons to be skeptical of McCaffrey’s chances of actually winning the Heisman. And here is the first: He plays in the wrong time zone.”
“If I watch a close game or a big game of yours and you don’t stand out at all, then you can be on my ballot but not on the top line,” one East Coast Heisman voter told me. “So the Northwestern game (last season) eliminated him from my top line.”
Is this really an issue? To see how the viewers may stack up, I checked the viewers for each upcoming Top 25 team, using last year’s TV viewer info. That info doesn’t include the conference network games, which are usually relegated there because they were not a top choice of the national networks. To balance it out, I added up the combined viewers for the six most-watched games for each program. Here are the results:
Make of this what you will. Yes, the Pac-12 ranks lower in terms of the viewers. Stanford was #1 in drawing viewers in the Pac-12 last year. Last year was also a season where the Pac-12 had no national champion playoff contender, and it showed in the late season ratings relative the championship games and final week ratings.
But, if you aren’t Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State (by rivalry with those other two), Notre Dame, or to some extent LSU, you are at a disadvantage.
McCaffrey didn’t have significantly fewer eyeballs watching him than did DeShaun Watson, Chad Kelly, Dalvin Cook, or Baker Mayfield. Clemson’s games last year included one against Notre Dame that is not on the schedule this year (Stanford does as well, but plays the Irish again). No one talks about DeShaun Watson being at a viewer and attention disadvantage, but the chances are good that more people will watch Stanford games than Clemson games this year, because of the crowded TV schedule for early games, and a lack of marquee matchups besides Florida State, and to a lesser extent from a TV standpoint, Auburn.