With ESPN doing its much-ballyhooed "Megacast" spread over five TV channels (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic and Goal Line) as well as several online platforms through the network's WatchESPN app, the numbers for Auburn vs. Florida State tell an interesting story across the board.
Three of the channels, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS drew a total combined rating of 14.8, this despite the game being close into the 4th quarter and the Seminoles winning on a late touchdown. Last year, Alabama-Notre Dame, which aired on ESPN only, averaged a 15.1 rating.
Total viewership numbers were also lower for the final BCS National Championship than for 2013. Auburn-Florida State drew an average of 26.06 million viewers on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS. That's lower than Alabama-Notre which attracted 26.4 million.
As far as the specific numbers for the BCS Megacast goes, here is the breakdown:
ESPN: 25.57 million average viewers
ESPN2 (Title Talk): 389,000 average viewers
ESPNEWS (BCS Film Room): 100,000 average viewers
As critically acclaimed as Film Room was in social media, it drew the least of the three television feeds. Perhaps that shouldn't be too big of a surprise, ESPNEWS is in roughly 75 million homes while ESPN and ESPN2 are in almost 100 million. And, as well received as the idea of the BCS Megacast was, 98% of television viewers chose to stay with the main ESPN telecast throughout the evening. That shouldn't dissuade ESPN from attempting more megacasts in the future, but it does show just how many viewers either weren't aware of the alternate feeds or felt more comfortable sticking with Brent and Herbie.
Online, the ESPN3 exclusive streams accounted for 36% of total streaming minutes and average viewership, increasing the audience by 57% on WatchESPN. Here are the average viewership totals for those streams.
Auburn radio call: 30,900 average viewers
Florida State radio call: 28,202 average viewers
Campus conection: 17,263 average viewers
Spidercam: 11,553 average viewers
The four streams totaled 538,445 unique viewers throughout the evening.
Despite the lower numbers, this year's BCS National Championship is still the third largest cable audience in history, behind the 2011 (Auburn-Oregon) and 2013 National Championships.
Overall, this year's five game BCS average finished at a 9.4 rating for ESPN, which is 7% better than last year's 8.8.
So as we close the BCS era, ESPN has to be pleased to generate three of the highest audiences in cable television history. Network executives have to be salivating over the possibilities for the new College Football Playoff in 2015.