The National Championship Game brought good news to the self-proclaimed worldwide leader but mixed news to college football. On the positive end of the spectrum, last night’s Auburn win over Oregon was the highest rated show in cable TV history. The BCS title game was watched by just over 27.3 million viewers, which is about 5.5 million more viewers than the previous all-time cable high – a 2009 MNF game between Green Bay and Minnesota. That’s a huge number for ESPN that smashed their previous best and impressive for college football, considering nine out of the ten most watched cable telecasts were NFL games.
However, as Bloomberg points out, ratings were down 14% from last year’s title game between Texas and Alabama that aired on ABC. And, as Sports Media Watch observes, the 2011 version of the BCS National Title Game was the fifth lowest rated out of thirteen national championship games. Auburn/Oregon was also outrated by all four of the Wild Card Playoff games that aired on NBC, CBS, and Fox. With the BCS and the Final Four in the future moving to cable, it could mean more sports and more huge games find their way off network TV after seeing these numbers. In the end, it’s a feather in the cap for ESPN, but one has to wonder whether or not the move of these games to cable will prove beneficial in the long run for the sports involved with less eyes watching overall. One thing is probably for sure… Oregon fans will feel bitter for a long time… at least until Auburn has to vacate the title in 2014.