The College Football Playoffs has a regional problem in 2017. Namely, that 326 miles separate Clemson and Alabama, with fellow semifinalist Georgia located in between the two. Oklahoma of the Big 12 is the only other team represented.
Whatever your feelings about conference champions being represented and which team should have gotten the final playoff spot, from a television perspective, this year’s group has the potential to draw lesser interest from a national audience, because so many big markets do not have a rooting interest (or conference affiliation near one of the competitors).
Of the 19 previous title games either with the BCS or the College Football Playoff, the two highest rated games involved the USC-Texas classic, which had over 35 million viewers, and Oregon-Ohio State in the first year of the playoff. Both of those involved a large public university from a state with multiple top markets (Texas and Ohio) versus a West Coast opponent.
The seven lowest rated games, meanwhile, include three blowouts involving Oklahoma, and three Southern regional matchups, involving Alabama-LSU, and Alabama-Clemson over the last two years.
SEC fans would watch whether they had one or two teams from their region in the tournament, but expect that fans in the Northeast, in the Great Lakes region, and on the West Coast will have far less interest in this year’s group of four.