SBJ/January 15 - 21, 2001/Media

ABC hunts BCS renewals armed with ratings

ABC is touting positive TV ratings in its talks with Bowl Championship Series sponsors and corporate partners about renewing their deals.

Advertisers that have deals running through the 2002 BCS games include FedEx, Nokia, Tostitos, AT&T, National Car Rental, Ford, Chrysler, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Charles Schwab and Sears.

ABC's broadcasts of the four BCS college football bowl games — the FedEx Orange, the Nokia Sugar, the Tostitos Fiesta and the Rose Bowl presented by AT&T — delivered a 13.9 Nielsen household ratings average, up 5 percent vs. the 13.2 average from 2000 and 10 percent above their 12.6 average in 1999.

This year's version of college football's national championship game, the FedEx Orange Bowl, posted a 17.8 household average, up 2 percent from last season's national title game (the Nokia Sugar Bowl) and 3 percent above the '99 championship game (the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl).

Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales, said, "We're seeing an uptick in ratings for a major sporting event" at a time when ratings for many other big-time sports events are falling.

This year's national championship rating and ratings average compare favorably with the numbers generated by other major sports properties. The five-game 2000 World Series posted a 12.4 household average; the 2000 NBA Finals (six games) earned an 11.6 average; the 2000 Summer Olympics delivered a 13.8 average (in prime time); and the 2000 NCAA Division I men's basketball championship game scored a 14.1 average.

The NFL is still the king. The 2000 Super Bowl drew a 43.3 household average.

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