SBD/Issue 72/Sports Media

More Than OK: Orange Bowl Caps Record BCS Ratings For ABC

ABC's coverage of last night's Univ. of OK-FL State Univ. FedEx Orange Bowl for the BCS Championship earned a 17.0/26 preliminary overnight Nielsen rating, up 2% from last year's comparable 16.7/25 for VA Tech-FSU in the Sugar Bowl. The game helped ABC win the night (THE DAILY). In Pittsburgh, Chuck Finder calls the twenty-eight minute break during halftime of last night's game "inexcusable." But, "If you stayed with it until the end, you saw a pretty fair ABC broadcast" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/4). In Detroit, Steve Crowe writes, "Except for plastering its logo about every place possible — in two screen sections at once when the score-time graphic was displayed — ABC was up to the BCS challenge." Crowe calls ABC's Brad Nessler and Bob Griese "superb throughout" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/4). But in Miami, Barry Jackson writes, "If there were ever a night for ABC to explore the BCS and its future, this was it" because of the possibility of a co-national championship. But Jackson notes, "Aside from an interview with Miami coach Butch Davis, ABC wanted no part of the issue. Perhaps the network is leery of exposing the deficiencies of a system it's contracted to televise. Instead, ABC at halftime offered a history of the best passing/running combos in college-football history. Not exactly a timely topic, the 'through the air, on the ground' theme fit nicely with FedEx's sponsorship of the feature, and that's all that mattered, apparently. Such is the sponsor-driven state of network sports television today" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/4).

SWEET RATINGS: USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke notes that Tuesday's Univ. of Miami-Univ. of FL Nokia Sugar Bowl earned a 13.0 rating and "swamped" last year's "comparable" Univ. of NE-Univ. of TN Fiesta Bowl, which earned a 9.6 rating and also aired on January 2. This year's Sugar Bowl rating was also 55% better than the 8.4 for '99's comparable Syracuse Univ.-FL Orange Bowl. Martzke writes that the "strong" rating for the Sugar Bowl increased ABC's total rating points for the first three BCS games to 37.7, the highest number in the three years of the BCS, up 7% from '00 and 14% from '99. The Rose Bowl, featuring Univ. of WA-Purdue Univ., earned a 14.0 rating, down 1% from the 14.1 for Univ. of WI-Stanford Univ. last year, while the Fiesta Bowl, featuring OR St. Univ.-Univ. of Notre Dame, earned a 10.7, down 6% from last year's 11.4 for the comparable Univ. of MI-Univ. of AL Orange Bowl, also on New Year's night (USA TODAY, 1/4). INSIDE.com's Tom Bierbaum cited the "controversy over which teams deserved to play" in the national championship game for the increase in the Sugar Bowl rating (INSIDE.com, 1/4).

OVERFLOWING BOWLS: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes that before last night's Orange Bowl was played, the Sugar Bowl was "the longest of ABC's bowls so far," running at 3:58. ABC's bowl games have averaged 3:42, while ESPN's and ESPN2's 14 bowl games averaged 3:38, "including pregame and postgame studio shows and interviews." The NFL playoff games have averaged 3:03 this season (N.Y. TIMES, 1/4).

WHAT'S NEXT? ACC Commissioner and BCS Exec Dir John Swofford, on the future of the BCS: "I think the BCS is something that continues to evolve. Obviously, it's not something without potential controversy and it's not perfect ... but the system we have is by far the best we've had for delivering a national championship and for assuring a national championship game" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 1/4).

THEY GOT IT: SI had its latest issue-close ever, at 7:20am ET today, in order to get Univ. of OK's national championship on the cover of this week's issue (THE DAILY).

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