Before televised sports, if you wanted to catch a game, you had to go in person. Now, given the choice, many fans opt to stay home, munch a TV dinner and watch the top teams from around the world.
Hugely hurt by this TV trend were minor league baseball and everything below the Premier English soccer league. Why would you watch AAA when you can watch MLB? And why would you watch Maidstone United of the Isthmian League when you could watch Manchester United of the Premier?
This same power of viewers picking from a wider palette of games means that viewers concentrate on the top college teams. Would you rather sit in the bleachers to watch your local junior college, or would you rather catch Ohio State versus Nebraska? And college teams aren't just competing for viewers -- they're also going head-to-head for recruits. The conferences that get bowl games also get the best talent. If you were a top high school player, would you go to your local college, or would you sign on the dotted line of the Big 10, Pac 10, SEC or Big 12, expecting your skills to be seen by millions of at-home bowl fans around the country?