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Broadcasters & Connected TV, Colleges Media, Publishers

Case Study: Growing Fans and Sponsor Reach for FCS College Football

By: Erin Lent

Stats Perform was recently nominated for Hashtag Sports Awards’ Best College Sports Partnership, honoring our work with FedEx Ground to increase visibility and quality media coverage of Division I’s Football Championship Subdivision. 

In August 2023, we announced an expanded partnership with FedEx Ground, launching new initiatives to help the profiles of the subdivision’s teams and players. One season in, the partnership has outperformed our wildest expectations. 

Below, we give an in-depth look at how the pairing of Stats Perform and FedEx Ground has helped grow the FCS fanbase and sponsor reach. 

Growing the Subdivisions’ Visibility 

Fans had previously found it tough to find quality media coverage of the FCS and its member programs. 

Less media coverage means less visibility for the FCS. Greater challenges for its 13 conferences to attract top players and coaches. Lower merchandise and ticket sales. Lower television rights. Lower sponsorships. And fewer opportunities to build and nourish bonds with their fans. 

It also meant that incredible feats of athleticism, contests, and performances went unnoticed, weakening the sport’s remarkable power to create positive memories and capitalize on emotions. 

In 2015, a partnership between the FCS and Stats Perform was forged to help counter these visibility issues. 

 In the last decade, we have increased the accessibility of engaging FCS content throughout the season – and the off-season – and launched new initiatives to boost FCS media coverage and popularity.  

The 2022/23 seasons saw us begin preparing for a new era that championed FCS football and its student-athletes with new tactics and unprecedented passion.  

Enter FedEx Ground. 

Ushering in a New Era of FCS Football 

With a new major corporate partner by our side, we made it our goal to increase the accessibility of engaging FCS content, introduce new initiatives and revamp old ones to boost media coverage and popularity and celebrate the unique achievements of student-athletes, all while attracting new corporate sponsors.

Strategy & Execution 

We had already supported FCS with their annual banquet for nearly a decade but knew that modern fans and sponsors expected and craved year-round coverage. It was time for us to apply decades of sports content expertise to help the 128 deserving schools grow. 

New tactics included the launch of a new weekly podcast and accompanying YouTube channel, FCS Delivered, hosted by veteran FCS national writer Craig Haley and two-time Super Bowl-winning linebacker Gary Reasons, a three-time All-American on the FCS level.  

We developed a new online destination over on The Analyst for interactive stats and analysis, and to house the Stats Perform National FCS Top 25 and five major awards honoring the subdivision’s top players and team of the week. 

The new awards became popular ways for local and national media to discuss who is on the rise across the sport each week, and why. 

Then, we took it a step further by sending Gary Reasons around the nation to make 12 on-campus presentations to award recipients – on camera, and in person. 

Alongside the digital initiatives, hitting the road to deliver the awards in person gave us the opportunity to be face-to-face with the very people who make the FCS such a success, reminding us of the value of staying connected to the fabric of the sport. 

We were also pleased to see the media cut through obtained from our awards. The genesis of this idea was the success of our team and athlete rankings in other sports across our many clients. It has been great to see the strategy work to generate attention and discussion for the FCS. 

The Results

By uncovering magic in the detail of FCS’ teams and players, we accumulated over 18 million media impressions throughout the 2023/24 season, resulting in a 900% uplift and shattering the ceiling of our partnership’s expectations, and those of our sponsor. 

Perhaps most invaluably, we have had the opportunity to learn an enormous amount about the impact of working directly on growing audiences and attracting sponsors, instead of only supplying the materials for sports and publishers and broadcasters do it themselves.  

We’re looking forward to more opportunities to celebrate sporting heroes, old and new alike, and continue bringing fans from across the Football Championship Subdivision and the world of sport closer to the game.