SBD/Issue 73/Sports Media

ABC Posts Increase For BCS Title Game Despite USC Blowout

Orange Bowl Ratings Up
Despite USC’s Dominance

ABC earned a 14.7/23 overnight Nielsen rating for last night’s USC-Oklahoma FedEx Orange Bowl, up 2.1% from a 14.4/22 for last year’s BCS championship game, the LSU-Oklahoma Nokia Sugar Bowl (THE DAILY).

BCS: USA TODAY’s Rudy Martzke notes the average national rating for the three non-title BCS games has dropped 12% in the BCS’ seven years, from an 11.1 for the games following the ’98 season to a 9.8 this season. However, the ratings for the title game “have remained relatively constant, ranging from 17.2 to 17.8, except for” a 13.8 for the ’01 Miami-Nebraska Rose Bowl and the 14.8 for last year’s Sugar Bowl, before which USC “already had laid claim to a split title.” The declining viewership for the non-title games “was behind ABC’s proposal” for the Plus One game. Kevin O’Malley, a TV consultant for the Orange, Sugar and Fiesta bowls, said, “You can make a projection with a Plus One model that the ratings would be higher for non-title games.” But O’Malley added that Fox, which recently signed a four-year, $330M deal to air the three games beginning after the ’06 bowls, “believes there’s a lot of value in this, so you can’t necessarily conclude this will lead to a Plus One model” (USA TODAY, 1/5).

OTHER GAMES: ESPN earned a 5.0/ (4,480,000 HHs) cable Nielsen rating for the December 31 Miami-Florida Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, making it the network’s third-most-viewed bowl game telecast ever. The December 31 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, featuring Louisville-Boise State, earned a 4.6/ (4,065,000 HHs), making it the seventh-most-viewed bowl game in ESPN history (ESPN). The Liberty Bowl’s 4.6 was up 91.6% from a 2.4 for Utah-Southern Miss last season (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 1/5). The Peach Bowl, the December 29 Ohio State-Oklahoma State MasterCard Alamo Bowl and the December 30 Texas Tech-California Pacific Life Holiday Bowl –- all on ESPN — were Nos. 2-4, respectively, in total viewers among cable programs for the week of December 27-January 2. The January 1 Texas-Michigan Rose Bowl on ABC, which was excluded from network prime-time rankings because of its 5:07pm ET start, would have won the week with 20.5 million viewers (USA TODAY, 1/5).

ATTENDANCE: Attendance figures for each of this season’s 28 bowl games.

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