New Study Finds WKU Generated $15.8 Million in Media Exposure with Banner Day on Dec. 18, 2021

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — A new study has determined that the day of Dec. 18, 2021 – one of the finest days in the history of WKU Athletics – brought nearly $16 million in media exposure value to the athletic department and the university.

According to Nielsen Sports, WKU Football’s victory over Appalachian State in the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 18 and Hilltopper Basketball’s subsequent home victory over Louisville later in the day generated $15.8 million in total media value.

Nielsen’s analysis accounted for TV/broadcast exposure, editorial mentions, verbal mentions on TV and social media exposure.

“We all knew that Dec. 18 of last year was a special day for WKU and our community, but this study validates the far-reaching impact successful Athletics programs can have,” WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart said. “Athletics is the front porch of the university in today’s landscape, and that is a responsibility we take great pride in. It is always rewarding when our success can help shine a light on the many strengths of our institution.”

The historic day began with WKU Football’s 59-38 triumph over Appalachian State in the Boca Raton Bowl on ESPN. That game drew an average viewership of nearly 1.7 million people across its 221-minute runtime, per Nielsen, and the TV exposure alone of the game was valued at more than $8 million.

The game drew additional buzz throughout the day because of the record-breaking efforts of Hilltopper quarterback Bailey Zappe, who broke the NCAA single-season records for both passing yards and touchdowns in the game. Zappe is now with the NFL’s New England Patriots.

Hours later, Hilltopper Basketball took center stage for a marquee matchup with in-state foe Louisville, winning 82-72 in front of a packed crowd at E.A. Diddle Arena.

Serendipity led to a massive broadcast audience for the basketball game. Because of COVID-19 cancellations, the game was moved from CBS Sports Network to national CBS. The Hilltoppers and Cardinals ended up being the middle game of an elite national tripleheader that included Gonzaga-Texas Tech on the front end and Kentucky-North Carolina on the back.

There was also additional emotion added to the game as it came exactly one week after the devastating Dec. 11 tornado hit Bowling Green and the western region of the state. CBS devoted significant coverage to the damage and relief efforts, while Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear also attended and was interviewed in-game by CBS from courtside.

The Hilltoppers’ victory – WKU’s first ever over Louisville in Diddle Arena – carried an average viewership of 933,000 people across the game’s 130-minute runtime. The value of that broadcast exposure was valued at $6.3 million by Nielsen.