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Auburn-Florida State draws only 9th-highest TV rating in BCS championship history
on January 07, 2014 at 10:17 AM, updated January 08, 2014 at 9:01 AM
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Despite a dramatic fourth quarter, Florida State's 34-31 victory over Auburn at the BCS Championship Game drew a 15.3 overnight rating on ESPN, tied for ninth in the 16-year BCS championship history.
The rating for the final BCS championship reflects in part why college football is going to a playoff next season. Six of the nine lowest-rated games in BCS championship history occurred since 2008. Monday's dramatic championship game was barely better than Alabama's blowout of Notre Dame last year (15.1 rating).
The combination of ESPN's "BCS Megacast" coverage on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS averaged a 15.7 overnight rating on Monday, according to ESPN. ESPN had been hoping for a large number in the 17.0 to 17.5 range. Some viewers may have tuned out when Auburn took a 21-3 lead in the first half.
As usual, Birmingham led all markets for the telecast with a 55.8 rating, which was the third highest-rated bowl game on ESPN in Birmingham behind the 2011 and 2012 BCS championships won by Auburn and Alabama, respectively. Jacksonville was the No. 2 market (31.1 rating), followed by Knoxville (26.6), Atlanta (25.8), Orlando (24.9), Tampa-St. Petersburg (24.2), Memphis (24.1), Greenville, S.C. (24.0), Nashville (23.5) and Charlotte (22.2).
ESPN, which began airing the BCS Championship Game in 2011, is televised in fewer homes than the traditional broadcast networks. But ESPN executives have said in the past that has no impact on ratings since college football fans are more likely than the average American to have cable.
Since the switch to ESPN, Auburn-Oregon averaged a 15.3 in 2011, Alabama-LSU did a 14.0 in 2012, Alabama-Notre Dame produced a 15.1 in 2013, and now Auburn-Florida State has a 15.3 overnight of metered markets in 2014. Ratings for the title game showed signs of decline even before the game moved to cable. Fox had a 15.8 rating for Florida-Oklahoma in 2009.
ESPN's five-game average for BCS bowls this season averaged a 9.9 metered market rating, marking a 10 percent increase over last year's five games.
Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming, said the network's hope is the two playoff semifinal games approach viewership levels currently seen for the BCS Championship Game. Magnus hopes the new championship game is "substantially above that level."
BCS Championship TV Ratings
|2000||Florida State-Virginia Tech||17.5|