Majority Of Conference Football Championship Games See Audience Gains On TV
CBS on Saturday led all college football conference title games with an 8.4 overnight rating for Georgia’s 28-7 win over Auburn in the SEC Championship in the 4:00pm ET window, marking the game’s best figure since the Auburn-Missouri shootout in ’13 drew an 8.7 overnight. Georgia-Auburn is up 20% from Alabama’s blowout of Florida last season. The 8.4 overnight also is the best figure for any college football game this season to date, topping last week's Iron Bowl. Meanwhile, ABC on Saturday night drew a 3.7 overnight for Clemson's win over Miami in the ACC Championship, just above a 3.6 for Clemson-Virginia Tech last year, but well below Clemson-North Carolina in '15 (4.6) and Florida State-Georgia Tech in '14 (ACC-record high 4.8). Earlier in the day on ABC, UCF's double-OT win over Memphis in the AAC title game drew a 2.5 overnight, up big from a 1.6 rating for Temple-Navy last year. On Friday night, ESPN drew a 2.7 overnight for USC-Stanford in the Pac-12 title game. The Washington-Colorado matchup last year aired on Fox on a Friday night, drawing a 3.9 overnight. The CFP Selection Show yesterday also saw a slight uptick on ESPN from 12:00-4:00pm, drawing a 1.1 overnight vs. a 1.0 last year.
UNDER THE BIG TOP: Fox finished with 12.9 million viewers for Ohio State-Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship on Saturday night, marking the game's best figure since Michigan State-OSU in '13 (13.9 million viewers). It is the second-best figure for the Big Ten title game since it was created in '11. Fox Sports Go also had an average minute audience of 131,016 viewers, marking the streaming platform's best figure yet for a CFB game. The previous best was 107,983 for Penn State-Ohio State earlier this season. Meanwhile, Fox on Saturday afternoon drew 5.9 million viewers for Oklahoma's blowout of TCU in the first Big 12 title game since '10. That Nebraska-Oklahoma matchup on ABC in primetime drew just under 9 million viewers. Oklahoma-TCU also saw an average minute audience of 79,373 viewers, marking FS Go's best figure yet for a Big 12 game and fourth-best figure for any CFB game (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
CAN'T HOLD NEWS: SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted ESPN's Todd McShay asked Scott Frost "about the Nebraska football job in the immediate aftermath" of UCF's 62-55 win over Memphis for the AAC championship. Reports began surfacing during the game that Frost had taken the Nebraska job -- he was introduced yesterday -- and while fans "will always be upset at the timing of such a question, if McShay does not ask this question, he should honestly not be in his on-air position on the field." Frost is a prominent coach and "such questions come with the territory and Frost's choices." ESPN Producer Josh Hoffman said, "Given that we had just said he had reportedly accepted the job at Nebraska, we felt like it seemed like an obvious thing to ask. It was not a difficult decision from my standpoint. What would be your reasoning for not asking it?" (SI.com, 12/3).
SAY WHAT? Deitsch in a separate piece noted college football reporter Brett McMurphy "found himself in the middle of a bizarre television moment" on Saturday. ESPN's Steve Levy during UCF-Memphis credited "our own Brett McMurphy" for breaking the Frost news despite the fact McMurphy was let go in the April round of layoffs. McMurphy said, "I had reported the news, so I was curious what, if any, recognition I would get. When Steve started talking about there are reports about Frost to Nebraska, I was pleasantly surprised he gave me credit and when he said 'our own Brett McMurphy' I started laughing." He added, "My phone blew up from ESPN employees joking that I had been re-hired" (SI.com, 12/3). Hoffman said, "That was just an honest mistake. I wasn't happy about it." THE ATHLETIC's John Walters reported McMurphy has been "contacted by two networks about possibly working for them in the future" since Levy's slip (THEATHLETIC.com, 12/3).