SBD/January 7, 2014/Media

ESPN Sees Overnight Rating Decline For Net's BCS National Championship Telecast

Birmingham led all markets with a 55.8 local overnight rating for FSU-Auburn

ESPN earned a 15.3 overnight rating for Florida State’s 34-31 win over Auburn in last night's Vizio BCS National Championship game, down 2.5% from the network’s 15.7 overnight for Alabama's blowout of Notre Dame last year. However, FSU-Auburn is up 11% from a 13.8 overnight for Alabama-LSU in ’12. Last night's game was down 5% from the '11 title game, which saw Auburn beat Oregon on a last-play game-winning field goal. Birmingham led all markets with a 55.8 local rating for FSU-Auburn, followed Jacksonville (31.1), Knoxville (26.6), Atlanta (25.8) and Orlando-Daytona Beach (24.9). When the game’s “Megacast” coverage on ESPN2 and ESPNews is included, the game drew a 15.7 overnight (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette writes ESPN did a "splendid job of letting pictures and the Seminoles' emotions tell the story" following FSU's win. The net during the postgame celebration "captured a poignant moment" as FSU QB Jameis Winston hugged Auburn co-offensive coordinator Dameyune Craig, who was FSU's QB coach from '10-12 (JACKSONVILLE.com, 1/7). However, In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell writes the "televised hype and pregame buildup on multiple sports networks was so long, so extensive, so over-the-top spectacular that it was almost enough to make the Super Bowl blush" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 1/7).

I'M BRENT MUSBURGER?
In N.Y. John Healy notes ESPN play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger "mixed himself up" with color analyst Kirk Herbstreit during his opening for the game. Musburger opened the broadcast by saying, "Good evening and welcome, everybody, I'm Kirk Herbstreit alongside Brent Musburger." Healy notes Herbstreit "quickly turned his head and smiled at Musburger as if something was off, but let him continue anyway" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/7). The Detroit News' Bob Wojnowski wrote on his Twitter feed, "Don't care if Musburger is nearing the end, or if he identified himself as Kirk Herbstreit. Game feels bigger with him."

MUSBURGER EARNS KUDOS: Prior to Winston throwing the game-winning touchdown to WR Kelvin Benjamin, Musburger and Herbstreit mentioned how Benjamin is a popular target close to the goal line. Musburger described the play by saying, "Throws it. End zone, jump ball ... touchdown! You know who he went for, No. 1 Kelvin Benjamin. … On that drive, folks, the Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was 6-7 for 77 yards and the touchdown. So the BCS era is coming to an end with one of its best championship games ever. What is it about the Rose Bowl?" ("Florida State-Auburn," ESPN, 1/7). FoxSports.com's Jimmy Traina wrote on Twitter account, "That call by Brent was as good as it gets. No one -- NO ONE -- could've done it better." The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre: "Let's put that Brent Musburger TD call in the vault. Classic Brent. The guy is an announcing legend, no doubt on the announcing Mr. Rushmore." Spiracle Media co-Founder Bill Voth: "Honestly, that was a perfect call by Brent for that moment." Author James Andrew Miller: "Next commercial rewind to kickoff and try to call the play; see if you can come anywhere close to Brent's call." The Charlotte Observer's Scott Fowler: "Musburger has really been good these last few minutes." Meanwhile, reports have surfaced in recent weeks that ESPN's contract with the 74-year-old Musburger expires this summer. SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote Musburger "should call one of the CFB playoff games next year." The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Dave Matter: "Really hope there's a place for Musburger in next year's playoff coverage. He does his homework, doesn't get in the way of the game." Bulls announcer Chuck Swirsky: "If this is Brent Musburger's last prime time call I hope sports fans appreciate the greatness of what Brent has done for 40plus years." NFL Network's Scott Hanson: "If this was Brent Musberger's last game - here's a salute from a fan who respects his career & knows how difficult his job is."

3 FEET HIGH AND RISING: After Auburn took the lead with 1:19 left in the game following a Tre Mason touchdown run, Musburger mentioned that Mason's father was a member of influential hip-hop band De La Soul. NBA.com's David Aldridge wrote on Twitter, "Brent Musburger just quoted De La Soul. I'm about to have a stroke." From SB Nation's official feed: "Last two minutes of the National Championship game De La Soul reference from Brent Musburger, the world is an amazing place." ESPN's Kevin Negandhi: "Brent talkin De La and Me, Myself and I. The crowning moment of the 16 years of the BCS is complete." Fox' Kevin Burkhardt: "Brent, you are a gem. Old school hip hop reference!" Writer Tommy Tomlinson: "Glad they called a timeout so Brent could rank the Tribe Called Quest catalog."

MAKING A SOLID DEBUT: USA TODAY's Chris Chase noted Tim Tebow made his debut yesterday as an ESPN analyst and he "delivered his first response with clarity, poise and few signs of nerves." It was generally a "fine debut," as he began by answering a "softball question about how he prepared for his two national championship game appearances with the Gators." Though Tebow’s first answer "was fine, predicting his television future based on that one response is like slotting a quarterback for the Hall of Fame because he completes his first pass." The "real Tebow will begin to show himself in the future" (USATODAY.com, 1/6). NFL.com's Chase Goodbread writes under the header, "Tim Tebow Has Strong Debut As College Football Analyst." Tebow predicted a 35-31 win by FSU and with the end result 34-31, Goodbread writes, "Are you kidding? Stick to TV, Tim" (NFL.com, 1/7).

MACK ATTACK? In Austin, Kirk Bohls notes an ESPN source "wouldn't be surprised" if former Texas coach Mack Brown finds a job as a college football analyst at the net. Bohls: "Neither would I. He's a natural fit, although GameDay expert Lee Corso is still under contract and isn't eager to retire." Brown "has to act quickly if he truly does want to coach again." He turns 63 next August and "would be 64 before he coaches another game if he sat out next season" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 1/7). Meanwhile, ESPN's Sage Steele wrote Alabama coach Nick Saban, who appeared on ESPN's set during the game, "is money as an analyst." Steele: "Excellent on pregame coverage & as good - if not better at 1/2time when concise is key" (TWITTER.com, 1/6).

FRUIT OF THE VINE: ESPN earned a 6.7 final rating and 11.4 million viewers for the Clemson-Ohio State Discover Orange Bowl on Friday night, marking the best audience for the BCS bowl since Kansas-Virginia Tech in '08. That comes despite competition on the same night from Fox' broadcast of the Missouri-Oklahoma State AT&T Cotton Bowl. The Orange Bowl audience in '14 is up 10% and 8%, respectively, from the Florida State-Northern Illinois matchup last year, which aired on New Year's Day. Columbus led all markets with a 41.1 local rating, marking the best rating in the Ohio capital for a bowl game on ESPN since '00. Through four BCS games (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar ,Orange), ESPN averaged an 8.2 final rating and 14.3 million viewers, up 12% and 15%, respectively, compared to '13 (ESPN).

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