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Volume 24 No. 156
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CFP Title Game Historically Strong For Cable TV; Megacast Options Gaining More Popularity

The Alabama-Georgia CFP Championship on Monday finished as the second-most viewed telecast in cable TV history. An average audience of 28.4 million viewers watched the game across ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU, which was the first CFP title game to go to OT. That audience figure is below the 33.9 million viewers for the inaugural CFP title game in '15 featuring Ohio State-Oregon, which remains the most-viewed cable telecast on record. ESPN alone on Monday drew 27.4 million viewers for the traditional telecast of Alabama-Georgia, while ESPN2 drew 1.015 million viewers for its "Homers Telecast" simulcast -- likely that production's best audience yet. ESPNU drew 45,000 viewers for "Voices," a simulcast featuring five different individual ESPN-themed centric shows/productions. The audience for Alabama-Georgia peaked at 30.8 million viewers. Southern markets dominated the top 10 ratings for the game, taking nine of 10 spots. Midwestern market Columbus came in at No. 9. There was much less interest in the Northeast. Providence had the lowest rating for the game, followed by Hartford-New Haven and Buffalo. Meanwhile, data from Twitter shows Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa's game-winning pass generated the biggest peak in Twitter conversation during the live telecast with 54,000 tweets per minute. A video from the Sporting News feed showing Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough allegedly yelling "F--- Trump!" before the game was the most-retweeted tweet of the night (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

CFP/BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AUDIENCE TREND
YEAR
CFP/BCS
GAME
NET(S)
VIEWERS (000)
'18
CFP
Alabama-Georgia
ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU
28,443
'17
CFP
Clemson-Alabama
ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU
25,319
'16
CFP
Alabama-Clemson
ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU
26,125
'15
CFP
Ohio State-Oregon
ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU/ESPNews
33,922
'14
BCS
Florida State-Auburn
ESPN
25,572
'13
BCS
Alabama-Notre Dame
ESPN
26,380
'12
BCS
Alabama-LSU
ESPN
24,214

 

BEST/WORST LOCAL MARKETS FOR CFP TITLE GAME
RANK
TOP MARKETS
RAT.
RANK
LOWEST MARKETS
RAT.
1
Birmingham
57.6
47
St. Louis
11.4
2
Atlanta
47.8
48
Boston
11.2
3
Greenville-Spartanburg
31.9
49
Sacramento
11.1
4
Jacksonville
29.0
50
S.F.-Oakland-San Jose
10.9
5
Nashville
28.3
51
Minneapolis-St. Paul
10.7
6
Knoxville
28.0
52
N.Y.
10.6
7
New Orleans
27.5
53
Milwaukee
10.5
8
Austin
23.5
54t
Buffalo
10.1
9
Columbus
23.2
54t
Hartford-New Haven
10.1
10
Memphis
22.8
56
Providence
9.9

 

BACK ON TRACK: In N.Y., Kevin Draper notes Alabama-Georgia capped a "hugely successful college football bowl season for ESPN, as viewership was up for both its New Year’s Day slate of high-profile games and its entire 35-bowl-game season." Part of the reason ESPN’s overall bowl ratings are up "involves timing: This year both semifinals were played on New Year’s Day, and in the last playoff the semifinals occurred on New Year’s Eve." ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Scheduling Burke Magnus: "This was the first year really that the effort we put in with the commissioners to smooth out the N.Y.E. issue manifested itself in full bloom." Draper notes ESPN should "have another good year" in '19 before "scheduling difficulties return." The CFP title game in '20 "will not be played until Jan. 13, 16 days after the semifinals, which could cause interest to wane." Additionally, the semifinals "return to New Year’s Eve" the following two seasons (N.Y. TIMES, 1/10). 

MEGA MAN: THE ATHLETIC’s John Walters writes he "focused on three channels" for Alabama-Georgia -- ESPN's main telecast, the Homer Telecast on ESPN2 and the Coaches’ Film Room streaming channel on WatchESPN. Walters: "Coaches’ Film Room proved to be my favorite." The "lone disorienting aspect of it is that minus the ambient noise of the crowd, it feels a little sterile.” Walters: “I found myself turning to the other two channels for the needed shot of adrenaline.” The film room is an “outstanding idea that needs a little tweaking.” First, create a set that “feels more like a man cave.” Second, invite a “max of four coaches, perhaps three, and make chemistry a priority.” Walters also notes ESPN “seemed to be oblivious to a pair of topics that were trending on Twitter” before the game -- a "leak in the roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the interminable security lines outside" caused by President Trump (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/10)

VOICE CONTROL: SI.com's Jimmy Traina noted the voice of ESPN's Sean McDonough cracked during the Titans-Chiefs AFC Wild Card game on Saturday, and it "went all over the place" again during his call of the game-winning touchdown on Monday night for ESPN Radio (SI.com, 1/9).