SBD/December 15, 2011/Media

College Football TV Viewership Down For National Broadcasters In '11

NCAA football telecasts were down across the board this season among national broadcasters. CBS led all NCAA football broadcasters once again with 6.9 million average viewers for its SEC football telecasts. That figure is down slightly from ‘10. The net’s 4.2 rating was flat. ABC averaged 5.5 million viewers for its college football telecasts, also down slightly from last season, with the rating flat at a 3.5 average. However, the net’s 12 “Saturday Night Football” broadcasts averaged 6.7 million viewers, up 7.8%. NBC’s package of Notre Dame games this season averaged a 1.6 rating and 2.6 million viewers, marking the net’s lowest-rated season since acquiring the package in '91. Those figures are also down 23.8% and 16.7%, respectively, from last season.

CABLE: ESPN averaged 2.7 million viewers for its college football telecasts, down 7.6% from ’10, and its 1.8 rating was down from a 1.9 average. The net saw boosts for its noon window, including a record audience for the Nov. 12 Nebraska-Penn State game following the firing of Penn State coach Joe Paterno. The 3:30pm ET window also saw viewership jump this season as the net aired more national telecasts vs. regionalized broadcasts in the window. Those gains, however, were scuttled by a 16% drop in viewership for the net’s primetime games, which saw weaker audience in ’11 for its slate of SEC games. ESPN2 saw a sharp drop for its games this season; its average of 1.1 million viewers is down 21% from last year. During its first season of college football telecasts, FX averaged 1.0 million viewers for its mix of Big 12 and Pac-12 games. The net’s largest audience was 1.9 million viewers for the Sept. 24 Missouri-Oklahoma matchup. Versus also saw a double-digit percentage drop for its slate of Pac-12, Mountain West and Ivy League games (-10.9%). The net’s top game was TCU-Boise State on the afternoon of Nov. 12, which averaged 1.3 million viewers.

'11 NCAA FOOTBALL RATINGS, VIEWERSHIP
NET
TELECASTS
RAT.
% +/-
VIEWERS (000)
% +/-
'10 TELECASTS
CBS*
15
4.2
0.0%
6,857
-1.3%
15
ABC
34
3.5
0.0%
5,522
-1.0%
30
NBC
7
1.6
-23.8%
2,606
-16.7%
8
ESPN
66
1.8
-5.3%
2,740
-7.6%
75
ESPN2
46
0.7
-22.2%
1,118
-21.0%
56
FX
14
0.6
---
1,005
---
---
Versus
19
0.2
-33.3%
366
-10.9%
19

NOTES: All ratings listed are U.S. ratings. * = SEC Package only.

BREAKDOWN OF ESPN COLLEGE FOOTBALL WINDOWS
WINDOW
TELECASTS
RAT.
% +/-
VIEWERS (000)
% +/-
'10 TELECASTS
Saturday primetime
14
2.1
-16.0%
3,462
-16.1%
14
Saturday noon
14
2.1
10.5%
2,972
6.9%
14
Thursday primetime
11
1.8
0.0%
2,743
-3.4%
15
Saturday 3:30pm
12
1.4
7.7%
2,143
12.3%
12
             

TOP TELECASTS: CBS’ telecast of LSU-Alabama on Nov. 5 was the most-viewed regular-season broadcast in ’11 with 20.0 million viewers. The game was originally scheduled for a 3:30pm start, but the net worked out a trade with ESPN whereby it was moved to primetime. That audience was 66.5% higher than the viewership for the SEC Championship on Dec. 3, which ranked as the second-most viewed college football game this season. ABC’s most-viewed broadcast was a regionalized primetime window on Nov. 19, which averaged 9.7 million viewers for USC-Oregon and Oklahoma-Baylor. Overall, ABC accounted for eight of the top 15 most-viewed games of the season. ESPN also had one game rank in the top 10. The net averaged 7.5 million viewers for Notre Dame-Michigan on Sept. 10, which featured the first night game at Michigan Stadium. Fox only aired two college football games this season, but made them count. The net’s broadcast of the inaugural Big Ten Championship on Dec. 3, featuring Wisconsin-Michigan State, averaged 7.8 million viewers, which ranked ninth among all college telecasts. The net’s Pac-12 Championship broadcast averaged 4.5 million viewers, with Oregon defeating UCLA.

RK
DATE
TELECAST
NET
START (ET)
RAT.
VIEWERS (000)
1
11/5
LSU-Alabama
CBS
8:00pm
11.5
20,011
2
12/3
SEC Championship: LSU-Georgia
CBS
4:00pm
7.3
12,016
3
11/25
Arkansas-LSU
CBS
2:30pm
6.3
10,444
4
11/19
USC-Oregon/Oklahoma-Baylor
ABC
8:07pm
6.1
9,744
5
9/17
Oklahoma-Florida State
ABC
8:07pm
5.8
9,307
6
11/12
Oregon-Stanford
ABC
8:07pm
5.4
8,726
7
10/29
Stanford-USC/
Clemson-Georgia Tech
ABC
8:07pm
5.3
8,426
8
11/26
Ohio State-Michigan
ABC
12:00pm
5.1
7,958
9
12/3
Big Ten Championship:
Wisconsin-Michigan State
Fox
8:20pm
4.6
7,777
10
9/3
LSU-Oregon
ABC
8:06pm
4.6
7,751
11
10/1
Alabama-Florida
CBS
8:00pm
4.6
7,593
12
9/10
Notre Dame-Michigan
ESPN
8:17pm
4.5
7,541
13
11/26
Alabama-Auburn
CBS
3:30pm
4.5
7,508
14
11/19
Penn State-Ohio State/Clemson-
NC State/Texas Tech-Missouri
ABC
3:29pm
4.5
6,791
15
10/8
Oklahoma-Texas
ABC
12:00pm
4.3
6,533
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