SBD/January 10, 2012/Media

ESPN's Alabama-LSU BCS Nat'l Championship Overnight Down 14% From '11



Alabama defeated LSU 21-0, the first shutout in a BCS Championship game
ESPN earned a 13.8 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's BCS National Championship game, which saw Alabama defeat LSU 21-0. That figure is down 14.3% from a 16.1 overnight for last year's Auburn-Oregon matchup, ESPN's highest-rated telecast ever. Last year's game came down to Auburn kicking a field goal on the last play to win. When fast-national data comes in later today, the Alabama-LSU game will likely rank as the net's and cable TV's fourth largest audience ever, behind only Auburn-Oregon and two "MNF" games. The BCS National Championship led ESPN to a win for the night among all nets. Birmingham topped all local markets with a 61.2 rating, while New Orleans earned a 53.3 rating (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). CBS’ Tim Brando said, "This rating in the game is not going to be very good. When you're doing a championship game, you've got to get those people outside the inner sanctum of college football to watch. It's those people that look at this and say, ‘Wait a minute. Didn't we see these two teams play before? Why are we watching this boring game?’ … This is the pushback. This is the reaction that you get from those people that claim, ‘Do you know what? Why do I care to watch?’” CBS’ Brian Jones said, “You've got to bring in some new eyeballs when you're talking about your big Super Bowl, if you will, on the collegiate level. I don't think that matchup did that. Yeah, here in the South we loved it. … If you want to knock it out of the park, you got to get interest around the country” ("The Tim Brando Show,” CBS Sports Network, 1/10).

CARRYING THE GAME:'s Brian Lowry writes ESPN's coverage of last night’s game "came up stronger than the game itself, with Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit living up to what, despite the 21-0 shutout, almost certainly will register as the most-watched cable telecast of 2012." Musburger "was in fine form, repeatedly capturing key moments with almost the perfect phrase." ESPN also could "point to a solid performance by Herbstreit, whose insights are sharp and blissfully free of the hysteria and buffoonery characteristic of so many of the channel's college analysts." Lowry writes, "The pregame hype went on forever, but what else is new? On its face, this game had 'ratings killer' written all over it" (, 1/10). In Birmingham, Doug Segrest writes in "terms of drama, in terms of the broadcast, ESPN couldn't capture the electricity Alabama and LSU provided CBS on Nov. 5." Segrest: "Don't blame ESPN, and don't blame the veteran announcing team of Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit. Blame Alabama for taking all the air out of the building with a dominant BCS Championship game performance." ESPN "captured visual images throughout the night that told the story without narrative, such as the shot of an LSU fan with a gold-and-purple mohawk and Alabama defensive end Jesse Williams decked out in war paint" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 1/10).

TWITTER REAX TO MUSBURGER: Musburger's call of the game drew numerous reactions on Twitter last night. The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre wrote, "Musburger is hilarious tonight. Seriously. Great job by him." ESPN's Tony Reali wrote, "Just had to hear that again. Brent actually put a roll in there, too. 'McCarron is going to roll and dump it off. And that is Smelley.'"'s Arash Markazi wrote, "Brent Musburger screaming 'can he get to the 50' as if midfield is the endzone. Might as well be for LSU tonight."'s Pat McManahon wrote, "Brent almost exploded his pancreas saying the guy almost made the 50. ... The Brent Musberger comedy hour is building to its ending crescendo here."'s Rich Levine wrote, "After tonight, the only clear cut National Champion is Brent Musburger." But The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt wrote, "Could Brent Musberger say 'Honey Badger' any more than he has? Does the dude even have a real name?" The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Dave O'Brien wrote, "Doesn't it sound silly for 70-something national broadcaster to repeatedly refer to player as 'Honey Badger'? Use actual name once or twice?" The AP's Tim Reynolds wrote, "Brent Musberger just said 'Honey Badger' four times in 29.9 seconds. Yes, I timed it." Awful Announcing's Twitter feed posted, "If you drank every time Brent Musburger said Honey Badger... well, you're surely dead by now." KTCK-AM's Bob Sturm wrote, "America strongly considers never using term 'honey badger' again after Brent decides to ruin it over and over again." Jets FB Jim Leonhard wrote, "They need to get over this whole Honey Badger thing. It's starting to get annoying. Call the man by his real name."
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