If you’re less excited than usual about the first weekend of college football or your fantasy football draft, you’re not alone. At least according to internet search data.
Searches for the Florida Gators’ football team last month were a fifth of what they were last August, according to Google Trends, the company’s public tool that tracks search histories. Even if August 2019 was an outlier because of the Gators’ marquee Week 0 opener against Miami, this year’s results are still historically low. They’re half of what they were in August 2018, and the lowest they’ve been since 2004.
It’s not just UF. Florida State football searches in August were less than a quarter of what they were a year earlier and the lowest they’ve been since 2004 (as far back as Google Trends’ data goes). USF searches last month were also as low as they’ve been in the history of Google Trends and less than half of what they are most years.
And it’s not just college football.
Despite the buzz surrounding Tom Brady and Gronk, the Bucs’ searches last month were half of what they were in August of ’19 and the team’s lowest in that month since 2010.
Searches for the NFL last month were 35 percent of what they were the previous August. And so on.
If you want another data point, the ratings for last week’s first college football game (Central Arkansas-Austin Peay) were the lowest for the Division I-AA kickoff game since its opener became a bigger deal in 2014, according to Sports Media Watch.
There are plenty of potential explanations for the quantifiable drops. The NFL hasn’t had preseason games to build buzz. USF, FSU and UF have all delayed their openers. The NBA and NHL are more active than usual this time of year. And, most obviously, the coronavirus pandemic has overshadowed everything around sports.
We’ll see whether this trend continues once the season gets going.
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