SBD/Issue 244/Sports Media

Alabama-Virginia Tech Earns 4.2 Overnight Rating On ABC

ABC earned a 4.2 overnight Nielsen rating for the Alabama-Virginia Tech Chick-Fil-A College Kickoff Saturday night, marking the highest-rated game during college football's '09 opening weekend. The rating is up 5.0% from a 4.0 for regional coverage last year that was highlighted by Alabama-Clemson. ABC's Saturday afternoon regional coverage, which featured Georgia-Oklahoma State in 78% of markets, earned a 3.4 overnight, up 6.3% from a 3.2 for regional coverage last year. Notre Dame's 35-0 defeat of Nevada earned NBC a 1.3 overnight rating, down 51.9% from Notre Dame's first NBC telecast last year against San Diego State, and down 45.8% from '07, when the team opened against Georgia Tech. ESPN's highest-rated game of the weekend was BYU-Oklahoma on Saturday night, which earned a 3.3 cable rating and 4.562 million viewers, up from a 1.9 cable rating and 2.585 million viewers for Illinois-Missouri, which was the net's first Saturday night telecast in '08 (THE DAILY).

Corso Says He Was Nervous About Returning
To "College GameDay" Broadcast Saturday
GLAD TO BE BACK: ESPN's Lee Corso, who suffered a stroke in May, said his return as co-host of "College GameDay" Saturday "went all right." Corso: "I stumbled a couple of times. Getting what I want to say from my brain to my mouth is tougher now. A stroke affects your speaking, but I think the show went all right. I'll have to wait and see." Corso added, "I was really nervous. I was nervous because I didn't know if I would mess up or not. I was very, very nervous for this first show." However, Corso said he "never had a doubt that I would be here." Corso: "As a stroke victim, one of the things I found when I was reading about it is you've got to set a goal, or you won't pay the price that it takes to get through the speech therapy, the physical therapy and the occupational therapy" (SI.com, 9/7). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones noted "minor signs of his stroke are evident," as Corso "speaks a bit slower and with a slight slur." However, they are "barely noticeable because Corso's mind, enthusiasm and opinions remain as sharp as ever" (TAMPABAY.com, 9/6).

LOSING SIGHT OF THE FIELD: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick dubbed the Alabama-Virginia Tech broadcast as the "Worst ESPN-like Telecast." The dominant theme of the game, which was "brought to you as 'The Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game presented by Southwest Airlines as part of Dick's Sports Kickoff Week, followed by the Ford Wrap-Up Show,'" was that ESPN "had a NASCAR race the next day" (N.Y. POST, 9/8).

STATING THEIR CASE: POYNTER ONLINE's Al Tompkins reported six of the "most important journalism groups" sent a letter Friday morning to the Big Ten Conference "protesting new restrictions on the media's coverage of college football." The organizations, which included the Radio-Television News Directors Association, the Online News Association and the American Society of News Editors, "argued that the new restrictions would prevent journalists from giving viewers and readers the sports coverage they have come to expect from news organizations" (POYNTER.org, 9/4).

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