SBD/December 21, 2012/Media

Majority Of Networks See Regular-Season College Football Audience Decline In '12

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While NBC saw gains on the back of Notre Dame’s undefeated regular season, all other college football broadcasters saw a decline in viewership for their respective packages in ‘12. CBS’ SEC games remained the most-viewed package with 6.2 million viewers for 13 games. That figure, however, is down 10% from last year and down 11% from ’10. ABC finished with just under 5.0 million viewers, down 10% from last year and 11% from ’10. During its first season with a combined Pac-12/Big 12 package (23 games), Fox averaged 2.8 million viewers.

CABLE GAMES: ESPN led all cable nets with an average of 2.6 million viewers for its 68 telecasts this season. That figure is down 4% from last year. ESPN2 also saw a drop for its 61 games -- the net averaged 1.0 million viewers, down 13%. FX saw a sharp drop this season, as many of the net’s marquee matchups ended up on Fox. The net averaged 613,000 viewers, down 40%. Also seeing a sharp drop was NBC Sports Network, which lost its package of Pac-12 games after last season. For 23 games featuring the Mountain West, Ivy League and Colonial Athletic Association, NBCSN averaged 101,000 viewers, down 72% from last year. Figures were not available for CBS Sports Network, Big Ten Network, Pac-12 Network and Fox College Sports, as those stations are not rated.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL REGULAR-SEASON AUDIENCE
NET
TELECASTS
VIEWERS (000)
PREV.
% +/-
'11 TELECASTS
CBS
13
6,168
6,880
-10.3%
15
ABC
35
4,975
5,522
-9.9%
34
NBC
7
4,381
2,617
67.4%
7
Fox
23
2,837
n/a
n/a
n/a
ESPN
68
2,576
2,674
-3.7%
78
ESPN2
61
1,028
1,179
-12.8%
52
FX
20
613
1,016
-39.7%
14.0
NBC Sports Net
23
100
347
-71.2%
20

NIGHT MOVES: ABC led all primetime packages with 6.5 million viewers for its Saturday night games, but that figure is down 3% from last year. Fox averaged 3.6 million viewers for its first year of primetime games. On cable, ESPN’s Saturday night game audience was relatively flat this season. The net did take a hit for its Thursday night games, as an extended NFL Network schedule took audience away. Notre Dame was a boon for all networks in primetime this season, as five of the top 15 college night games involved the Fighting Irish. ABC's Notre Dame-USC matchup led all games this season with 16.1 million viewers, followed by CBS' lone primetime game of the season -- Alabama-LSU (11.3 million viewers). ESPN put two games in the top 15 in primetime -- South Carolina-LSU on Oct. 13 and Florida-Tennessee on Sept. 15.

MOST-VIEWED COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRIMETIME GAMES
FOR '12 REGULAR SEASON
RK
NET
DATE
TELECAST
RAT
VIEWERS (000)
1
ABC
11/24
Notre Dame-USC
9.4
16,059
2
CBS
11/3
Alabama-LSU
6.8
11,349
3
ABC
10/27
Notre Dame-Oklahoma
5.2
8,627
4
ABC
11/17
Stanford-Oregon
5.1
8,347
5
ABC
9/1
Cowboys Classic: Alabama-Michigan
4.8
7,918
6
NBC
9/22
Michigan-Notre Dame
4.0
6,384
7
ESPN
10/13
South Carolina-LSU
3.7
5,978
8
ABC
11/10
Notre Dame-Boston College
3.6
5,755
9
ABC
12/1
Texas-Kansas State
3.3
5,219
10
ABC
10/6
Nebraska-Ohio State
3.1
5,161
11
Fox
12/1
Big Ten Championship: Wisconsin-Nebraska
2.9
5,106
12
ESPN
9/15
Florida-Tennessee
3.1
5,076
13
ABC
9/15
Notre Dame-Michigan State
3.2
4,977
14
ABC
10/20
Baylor-Texas/Florida State-Miami
3.1
4,843
15
Fox
11/30
Pac-12 Championship: Stanford-UCLA
3.0
4,872
           

ALL THINGS LOCAL: Birmingham led all local markets for ESPN telecasts for the 12th consecutive year, garnering an 8.9 local rating. Greenville-Spartanburg moved up from No. 4 last season to second place this year. Eight of last season's top 10 local markets again finished in the top 10 this year. Tulsa and Las Vegas dropped out of the top 10, while Nashville, Memphis and Austin jumped into the top 10. All three metered markets in the state of Tennessee finished in ESPN's top 10 this season, with Knoxville leading the way with a 4.6 local rating. Meanwhile, Indianapolis topped all markets for NBC's Notre Dame telecasts with a 9.9 local rating for the seven games. The Chicago and Cincinnati markets tied for second (5.6 rating), followed by Columbus (5.2) and Pittsburgh (4.9).

ON THE SET: ESPN's "College GameDay" averaged 2.0 million viewers for its 10:00am-12:00pm ET window. That figure is down 2% from last year, and down 1% from '10. The most-watched show this season was from the campus of USC prior to the Notre Dame game on Nov. 24 (2.4 million viewers), while the least-watched edition was 1.7 million viewers from the campus of Michigan State prior to the school's matchup with Ohio State on Sept. 29.

ESPN "COLLEGE GAMEDAY" AUDIENCE TREND
YEAR
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
'12
1.4
2,033
'11
1.5
2,068
'10
1.5
2,062
'09
1.5
2,034

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