Source: ESPN Sports Poll (a service of TNS) for year 2009
While media attention on the recent, massive $10.8 billion, 14-year deal between the NCAA and CBS and Turner Broadcasting has been focused on the movement of sports from network to cable or on the expansion to 68 teams, it's important to note one surprising statistic: there are more avid fans of NCAA Basketball than of the NBA. I doubt that anyone outside of the US would believe in their heart that the NBA scores lower than college ball in any metric.
In future posts, I'll take a more detailed look at the fan bases, but either way, David Stern can rest easy, for now. The Final Four deal (locking in an average of about $770M per year), is still much smaller than the NBA's current deal (averaging about $930M per year through 2015-16) despite the continued growth in popularity in college sports and the many more hours of programming available at the college level.
IMG represents a wide swath of college properties, but I am still constantly amazed at the interest in college sports.