What’s Up with the TV Ratings Drop?

The media originally tried to spin the ratings from the Alabama – LSU rematch as the lowest in the history of the BCS.

As it turns out when the final ratings were tabulated, it was only the third lowest:

Final ratings for Alabama’s 21-0 victory over LSU were the third lowest for a national championship in the 14-year history of the BCS. The All-SEC affair, the first championship pairing teams from the same conference, drew a 14.0 rating on ESPN. The lowest ratings were a 13.7 for USC-Oklahoma in 2005 and a 13.8 for Miami-Nebraska.

Tom Fornelli’s original spin job included this:

The overnight ratings for the BCS National Championship Game show that last night’s rematch between Alabama and LSU was the lowest-rated title game in the 14-year history of the BCS, bringing in a 13.8 overnight rating, a 14% drop from last year’s game between Auburn and Oregon. The previous low had been set in 2002 when Miami played Nebraska for the title and the game brought a 14.3 rating.

There are a few factors that were no doubt in play here. First of all, it seems many college football fans were serious when they said they didn’t want to watch a rematch of a game they’d already seen, particularly one that ended 9-6 the first time and didn’t exactly provide a lot of excitement. Another factor to consider is that the game was broadcast on ESPN, which is available on cable packages and previous BCS games had always been broadcast on national networks.

[Note: Some of this blather was updated when final viewing numbers were tabulated.]

Compare the above to this little goodie from NOLA.com:

Monday’s (Jan. 9) BCS National Championship broadcast of Alabama’s 21-0 shutout of LSU on ESPN scored the second-highest rating in cable-TV history, bested only by last year’s BCS Championship broadcast, also on ESPN.

The game’s 16.2 fast-national household rating represents 24.2 million viewers, down from last year’s 17.8 rating and 27.3 million viewers for Auburn’s victory over Oregon.

Birmingham, Ala., had the highest rating of all local markets Monday, 61.2, with each rating point representing 1 percent of total homes there.

The cablecast got a 53.3 overnight rating in New Orleans, where a local rating point represents about 6,440 households.

The game was the most-watched program of the night on broadcast or cable.

[Emphasis added.]

It’s kind of neat what an agenda will do the numbers, isn’t it?