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Volume 25 No. 196
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Clemson Blowout Leads To Lowest CFB Title Game Rating Since '12

Through three quarters, Clemson-Alabama ratings were tracking even with the '17 matchup

ESPN drew a 14.6 overnight rating for Clemson’s 44-16 blowout win over Alabama in the CFP National Championship last night, marking the lowest rating for a college football national championship since Bama-LSU in '12. The score marked the largest margin of victory for a CFB championship since USC-Oklahoma in ’05. Clemson-Alabama is down 13% from Bama’s thrilling overtime win over Georgia last season. The 14.6 rating includes the MegaCast options offered on ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNews. Two years ago, Clemson’s 35-31 last-minute win over Bama drew a 15.3 overnight. Through three quarters of last night's game, ESPN was actually tracking even with that game from two years ago, but the score never got close again. Despite the decline, the 14.6 is cable TV's best overnight rating over the past 12 months. Last night’s game peaked at a 16.2 rating in the first half as Clemson extended the lead to 15 points. Birmingham again led all markets with a 56.6 local rating. That is down from a 57.6 last year, but up from a 53.6 two years ago (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

Ohio State-Oregon
Florida State-Auburn
Alabama-Notre Dame
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CFB title game overnights

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES?: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes the idea behind ESPN's "miscast 'Megacast'" has "become as bloated as a Cheesecake Factory menu." Meanwhile, ESPN's main feed of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit "will never have the commanding presence of a Keith Jackson, Brent Musburger or Merlin Olsen." The "MNF" Film Room featuring Joe Tesstiroe, Jason Witten and Booger McFarland was a "shameful renovation to try to save a sinking ship." SEC Network’s “Thinking Out Loud” production was a "sad party in someone’s parents basement filled with exes and 'Oh nos!'” ESPNU’s “Command Center” was the "closest thing to a 7-Eleven security camera setup" (L.A. TIMES, 1/8). The N.Y. Post's Andrew Marchand tweeted, "Just checked out each Megacast, fun TV nerd stuff, but quick takeaway is the traditional approach is still probably the best way to go." He later added, "Fowler’s lack of reps before getting the big job and his lack of a great play-by-play voice show up sometimes during these games. He’s improved over the years, but he is far superior as a host than he is on play-by-play" (, 1/7).

EARLY MISSTEPS; In Ft. Worth, Peter Dawson writes Witten "stepped in it immediately" last night on the opening kickoff (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/8).'s Andrew Joseph wrote the former Cowboys TE had "no idea you can call fair catches on college kickoffs" and start at the 25-yard line. As Alabama kicked off, Clemson’s Derion Kendrick "called a fair catch at the two-yard line." Witten pointed and asked, “Why’d he fair catch it?” Everyone else on the broadcast "quickly interjected to let Witten know that it was a new rule." Joseph: "It took one play for this new MNF film room to be the massive downgrade we all expected it to be." Even in the "casual film room setting, it was more of the same struggles" (, 1/7). Newsday's Nick Klopsis tweeted while the "MNF Film Room pales in comparison to the Coaches Film Room," Witten and McFarland were "better than anticipated." RedditCFB tweeted, "ESPN got rid of Coaches Film Room so that we could watch Jason Witten try to figure out why the clock is stopped after a 1st down." ESPN Radio's Josh Pacheco: "I’m actually kinda liking the MNF Film Room version. I like how Jason Witten is working in a more relaxed setting" (, 1/7).

OTHER OBSERVATIONS: In Cleveland, Marc Bona notes the pylon cam is "always a good thing, great for goal-line stands and scoring plays." But last night it was "only used a few times." The Blimpcast "caught a great overhead shot of the Clemson band performing, which you could see aired on the alternative channels of the megacast during halftime" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/8). In Charlotte, Langston Wertz Jr. notes streaming options "can get badly overloaded" in the case of a big game, and it was "happening again" last night. Many viewers"were faced with blocky pictures, stuttering video or simply no picture at all." Some "couldn't even get the guide to come on their screen to switch to the game." There were also "many reports of the Watch ESPN standalone app facing similar issues." But the problems "seemed worse, based on social media reports," on DirecTV Now "than other services" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/8).