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Volume 24 No. 156
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Dramatic Alabama-Georgia CFP Title Game Gives ESPN Its Second-Best Overnight Ever

Alabama's 26-23 OT win over Georgia in the CFP title game last night delivered a 16.7 overnight rating across ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU, marking the second-best figure for any ESPN telecast on record. The only telecast to earn a higher figure was the inaugural CFP title game in '15, when ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU/ESPNews combined for an 18.8 rating for Ohio State-Oregon. Alabama-Georgia is up 9% from a 15.3 last year for Clemson's last-second win over Alabama, and up from a 16.0 for Alabama-Clemson two years ago. ESPN by itself drew a 16.0 for the game, up from a 15.3 last year and a 15.8 two years ago. The final BCS title game -- Florida State-Auburn on ESPN in '14 -- drew a 15.3 overnight. Last night's game peaked at an 18.4 rating from 9:45-10:00pm ET. It also drew a 17.1 rating from midnight-12:15am when the game was in OT. Birmingham was again the winner among TV markets, drawing a 57.6 local rating, which is up from a 53.6 last year, but down from a 59.2 two years ago. Atlanta drew a 47.8 local rating for the game, which is the market's best figure yet for a college football game on ESPN. Looking at the complete New Year's Six games this year, ESPN networks averaged a 9.8 overnight, which is the best figure since the CFP began four season ago (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OVERNIGHT RATINGS TREND
YEAR
NET(S)
MATCHUP
RATING
ESPN-ONLY
'18
ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU
Alabama-Georgia
16.7
16.0
'17
ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU
Clemson-Alabama
15.3
15.3
'16
ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU
Alabama-Clemson
16.0
15.8
'15
ESPN/ESPN2/
ESPNU/ESPNews
Ohio State-Oregon
18.8
18.5
'14
ESPN
Florida State-Auburn
15.3
---
'13
ESPN
Alabama-Notre Dame
15.7
---
'12
ESPN
Alabama-LSU
13.8
---

HIGHS AND LOWS FROM THE BOOTH: The game call from ESPN's Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit predictably drew a mixed bag of reviews on Twitter. Barstool Sports' Pat McAfee wrote, "@KirkHerbstreit is one of the most talented dudes on tv.. I think he and @cbfowler were incredible tonight." FS1's Jason Whitlock: "I was blown away when Herbstreit indicated Bama might switch QBs. Thought he was crazy. Wow." But SI.com's Jimmy Traina wrote, "Brutal job by Fowler and Herbstreit for not picking up this no-call false start penalty on tying TD. ... Absolutely stunning to me that ESPN has not once mentioned there should've been a false start penalty on Alabama during the tying TD" (TWITTER.com, 1/8). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes Herbstreit is the "star of every game he calls," and he "might be the best college football analyst ever." Jones: "You know it’s a big game when he’s on the mic. And if he’s on the mic, he’s giving a big-time performance" (TAMPABAY.com, 1/9). Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Marc Bona writes it is "good to hear explainers dropped in at appropriate moments, like when Herbstreit noted Alabama lined up with its dime package - six defensive backs." Bona: "Too often former players and coaches gloss over terminology, forgetting the average fan hasn't played and might not know the Xs and Os" (CLEVELAND.com, 1/9).

YEARNING FOR MORE COACH SPEAK
: In Denver, Kyle Fredrickson notes Colorado State coach Mike Bobo, a former UGA offensive coordinator, was the only participant in ESPN's "Coaches Film Room" alternate feed from a Group of Five school. It was an "enviable position for any coach regardless of conference affiliation, but especially for a program like CSU that rarely receives the ESPN spotlight in prime time, let alone during the title game." Bobo was joined by Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, Ole Miss' Matt Luke, Duke's David Cutcliffe and former Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. The audio production was "not seamless with a split screen between the coach discussion and the game, but Bobo provided both lighthearted and critical analysis" (DENVER POST, 1/9). SI.com's Richard Deitsch tweeted, "The coaching group ESPN chose this year for the Coaches Film Room is excellent. Great chemistry. Each coach sharing the mic." ESPN's Jemele Hill: "As always, the coaches film room telecast delivers. You learn so much. Would recommend switching over whenever either team is in the red zone. Amazing insight." NBC Sports Philadelphia's Marshall Harris: "If y'all didn't watch the Coaches Film Room feed of the #nationalchampionship you really missed out" (TWITTER.com, 1/8).