The Sports Business Journal had a captivating feature about Fox’s second full season of sending their college football pregame show on the road.

Despite trailing behind ESPN’s College GameDay in viewership, Fox’s show has witnessed a remarkable surge in ratings, leaving the network exceptionally pleased with its performance. The feature underscores the exceptional talent, both on-screen and behind-the-scenes, who have contributed to Big Noon Kickoff’s extensive success.

One of the more interesting nuggets in the feature talks about the show’s added emphasis on supercharging energy and atmosphere.

“What we’re trying to do is taking the tailgate — that party and that atmosphere inside the stadium right before the game — right to kick.”

Combine this star-studded cast with a team of around 100 behind-the-scenes staffers, an emcee operating as the “show within the show” and a marketing effort centered on fun and flair and it doesn’t take squinting to see how “Big Noon” has evolved into must-watch TV and a genuine event when it rolls into town.

As hundreds of fans spill into the staging area for a view of the crew, a free T-shirt, or just a glimpse at what all this is, it’s easy to see how this one-time studio show that’s been put on wheels has taken off at warp speed.

DJ Amy Robbins, who also works regularly for the San Francisco 49ers and travels with the group weekly, spins tracks from a booth opposite the stage that towers above the crowd. Staffers armed with T-shirts and sparkly white cowboy hats emblazoned with Big Noon Kickoff logos pass out gear to those who’ve braved the chilly early-morning temperatures in State College.”

What was once a very sterile in-studio pregame show, is now quite a spectacle; one Fox’s social media team has gone to great lengths to highlight, which you can see below.

The added focus on getting more students and a livelier background as well as giveaways, music, etc, seems to be working. At the same time, it doesn’t come across as a point of differentiation compared to GameDay. With live music performances, celebrity pickers trending younger, and Pat McAfee drawing thousands of student-aged fans every week, ESPN seems to have made it a point of emphasis to make GameDay into a more rowdy and festive event as well.


College GameDay going to schools like Appalachian State and James Madison — where they drew an estimated 26,000 fans — seems aimed at finding larger and livelier crowds at schools well off the Power Five beaten path. While those games were not particularly nationally relevant, the atmosphere of those shows was undeniably electric.

Both networks seem to be quite happy with this in terms of attendance at the pregame show as well as ratings. According to SBJ, Big Noon Kickoff averaged 1.02 million viewers through the first 10 weeks this season, with 1.4 million in the 11 a.m. period (through nine weeks). College GameDay, on the other hand, averaged 1.99 million viewers through 10 weeks, with an 11 a.m. average of 2.66 million.

Big Noon Kickoff has come a long way since its debut and has certainly closed the gap on College GameDay on a few fronts. Will Big Noon Kickoff ever pull even to GameDay? While the prospect seems unlikely in the near future, it’s undeniable that Fox has found a winning formula with its pregame show. This burgeoning rivalry ultimately offers viewers two solid, differing options for pregame entertainment in the current environment.

[; Photo Credit: Fox Sports]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.