LSU-Alabama Marks CBS' Best College Football Audience In 22 Years
CBS earned an 11.5 fast-national Nielsen rating and 20.0 million viewers for LSU's 9-6 overtime win over Alabama on Saturday night from 8:00-11:39pm ET in a battle of the two top-ranked teams in the country. The game marks CBS' most-viewed college football telecast (non-bowl game) since Notre Dame-Miami averaged 22.5 million viewers in November '89. The same matchup last year earned a 4.4 rating and 7.2 million viewers in the 3:30pm ET window. LSU-Alabama is up 3.6% and 11.4%, respectively, from an 11.1 rating and 18.0 million viewers for the '09 SEC Championship, which at the time featured a matchup of No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
SPEAKING FOR ITSELF: In Birmingham, Doug Segrest noted CBS "set up the Game of the Century as a defensive struggle, then let the events tell the tale without overplaying the hype." The net "set the tone with glimpses of pregame locker room speeches." But the broadcast "missed the first sign of gamesmanship, as the Crimson Tide waited for the Tigers to exit the tunnel and enter the stadium first." Segrest noted a couple of the "Gold moments" during the broadcast. When Alabama "moved Barrett Jones from left tackle to the right side, analyst Gary Danielson pointed it out before the snap." Alabama RB Eddie Lacy "promptly followed him for a 12- yard gain." Later, Danielson "wondered if it was time for quarterback Jordan Jefferson to take over the LSU offense." On cue, Jefferson "took the reins and CBS showed a timely graphic that he had produced a touchdown on average of 15 snaps since his return from suspension." Meanwhile, Segrest noted CBS' Verne Lundquist is "known to get verbally jumbled at times, but he had a good first half until Jefferson hit a wide-open receiver in the waning moments." When Russell Shepard "caught the ball like a free safety, Lundquist exclaimed, 'Intercepted!' Uh, no" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 11/6). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones labels Danielson and Lundquist as the "most mediocre broadcast" of the weekend. Jones writes, "I'm a huge fan of the CBS broadcasting team of Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson, but the two had a rough night calling the latest 'Game of the Century.'" Jones adds, "Their performance was not atypical, at least this season." More frequently "than in the past, Lundquist is getting calls wrong, as if he's not seeing plays clearly." Danielson is put in the "difficult spot of quickly correcting his partner without making it sound awkward and as a result is talking a tad too much" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/7).
COVERING IT LIKE ONE OF THEIR OWN: In N.Y.. Phil Mushnick writes, "Give ESPN credit for covering it as if it were on ESPN, not CBS." Mushnick: "Even Brent Musburger, working Kansas State-Oklahoma State on ABC, acknowledged that with LSU-Alabama over, people were just tuning in to his game" (N.Y. POST, 11/7). The ST. PETERSBURG TIMES' Jones writes ESPN's postgame coverage of LSU-Alabama "was tremendous," and he named it the "best postgame" of the weekend. Jones: "The more I watch [David] Pollack and [Urban] Meyer, the more I like them." ESPN "really needs to think of ways to make them more visible" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/7).
STREAMING LIVE: CBSSports.com said it drew 214,560 unique viewers for its live stream of LSU-Alabama. The number, best ever for an SEC game streamed on the site, was comprised of 171,648 uniques on CBSSports.com, and another 42,912 watching on the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, according to internal metrics. While an historic number for the network and more than twice the audience for live streams of many other SEC games, it still is far less than the 619,000 uniques that watched the '11 Auburn-Oregon BCS National Championship game on ESPN3.com. ESPN said it has also surpassed the LSU-Alabama number with three other college football games on ESPN3.com, most recently with an audience of 258,624 uniques for Notre Dame-Michigan on Sept. 10. CBSSports.com Senior VP & GM Jason Kint in a statement said, "Extending the audience by nearly a quarter of a million viewers during primetime on a Saturday night is quite an accomplishment and the perfect compliment to the CBS Sports broadcast" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
CALM UNDER PRESSURE: USA TODAY's Michael McCarthy notes ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit "was live on the air Saturday with Chris Fowler after calling Oklahoma State's home win vs. Kansas State when a 5.6 shaker hit the area." Herbstreit's eyes "nearly bugged out of his skull," but he "didn't interrupt as Fowler labored through a long-winded question about Alabama." Herbstreit "calmly informed him the stadium had been rocked by an earthquake." McCarthy: "You have to give Herbstreit credit" (USA TODAY, 11/7).