Heading into the bowl season, one thing is clear from this season of college football – the state of Alabama is king.
ESPN's highest-rated market in 2013 is once again Birmingham, which averaged a 9.2 rating. Birmingham has been at the top of ESPN's college football ratings for 13 years running. But Birmingham is kicking in the teeth of all competition – no other market cracked a 5.0 rating this year, and only three (Greenville, Knoxville, and New Orleans) broke the 4.0 mark. Then there's Birmingham and its outrageous 9.2. That's just ridiculous.
What about the SEC on CBS? Well, the top three games for the network all involved either Auburn or Alabama – the SEC Championship game, Alabama-Texas A&M, and the Iron Bowl. The first two games each drew an 8.6 rating, the highest rating for a college football game during the 2013 season. Of those three games, the SEC Championship drew a 48.2 rating in Birmingham, Alabama-Texas A&M drew a 47.0 rating in Birmingham, and the Iron Bowl picked up a mind-numbing 57.3 rating in Birmingham. All in all, the SEC on CBS's 4.5 rating was the highest rated regular season college football package for the fifth straight year, and the highest rating ever for the SEC on CBS over a full season.
There's one other college football tidbit to close our the pre-bowl season. College GameDay expanded to three hours on ESPN for the first time this year, and the 9-12 timeslot on Saturday mornings was up by 10% from 2012. However, the three hour timeslot was down 10% from the two hour GameDay timeslot in 2012 and down 12% from 2011.
College football is alive and well in this country, and ESPN has positioned itself very well for the launch of the SEC Network next year.