NFL vs. NCAA: Nearly 3 In 4 Football Fans Prefer Watching The NFL

Written By PlayOhio Staff on September 5, 2023 - Last Updated on September 6, 2023
New Orleans Saints NFL Football Fans

Every year, as football season approaches, anticipation builds among Americans from coast to coast. Whether it’s the thrill of attending games or the camaraderie of tailgating with fellow fans, there are many ways people enjoy the sport. But there’s one debate that never seems to end: Which is better, NCAA football or the NFL? Here at PlayOhio, we surveyed football fans across the country to find out why they prefer one over the other.

NFL and NCAA Football Fandom


Nearly three in four (73%) football fans prefer to watch the NFL over NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision football (formerly Division I). However, when it comes to attending games, the split among football fans is closer, with 59% preferring to attend NFL games and 41% preferring college games.

It’s no secret attending a football game can be an expensive outing, but just how much are fans willing to spend on tickets? The average American is willing to shell out $210 for an NFL regular season seat and $133 to attend a regular season NCAA football game. 

Cost can be a factor in choosing which type of game to attend and 86% believe NCAA tickets are more reasonably priced than NFL tickets. Overall, 58% agree that the game day atmosphere and fan experience is better at college games. That may be part of the reason why 55% believe NCAA football has better tailgating

While both leagues can provide thrilling games, 88% of football fans say the NFL has better talent. 

Top 10 Most Expensive NFL and NCAA Football Home Games

Most Expensive NFL and NCAA Football Home Games - infographic from

Most fans would argue they’d try to do anything to see their favorite team take the field in person. But, some fans will be reaching deeper into their pockets than others. We ranked the most expensive home games by team in the NFL and among NCAA programs that are part of the Power Five conferences. In the NFL, the Las Vegas Raiders take the #1 spot for more expensive home game tickets. The Raiders are followed by the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, and Chicago Bears. 

As for NCAA teams in the Power 5 conferences, the Alabama Crimson Tide is No. 1 for the most expensive home game tickets. It’s no surprise, the reigning national champion Georgia Bulldogs rank No. 2, followed by the South Carolina Gamecocks, Texas A&M Aggies, and the Tennessee Volunteers. 

Football Fan Showdown: NFL Playoffs vs. NCAA Bowl Season

Most Expensive NFL and NCAA Football Home Games - infographic from

Come the colder months, all focus shifts to playoffs, bowl season, and the Super Bowl. As for which fans enjoy more: two in three prefer the NFL postseason to the NCAA bowl season. Despite this, one in 10 say a National Championship win is more prestigious than a Super Bowl win, and two in three believe NCAA football has a stronger sense of camaraderie and community. In fact, one in 10 football fans chose which college to attend based on the school’s football team.

Gambling on Football

Among those who gamble on football, 82% prefer to bet on the NFL, while 18% prefer to bet on NCAA games. As for what fans are betting on, 80% tend to wager on game results, while 20% bet on players. The average person spends more than $400 betting on football throughout the season.

Whether your allegiances lie with college football or you’re dedicated to your favorite NFL team, both leagues bring unique experiences to fans. As the new season approaches, it will undoubtedly bring unforgettable moments for football lovers everywhere!


In July 2023, we surveyed 999 self-reported football fans from across the U.S. Respondents ranged in age from 19 to 85 with the average age of 42. Fifty percent identified as male, 49% identified as female, and 1% identified as non-binary or transgender.

To determine the most expensive home games in the NFL, we analyzed Team Marketing Report’s FanCostIndex for 2022.

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