With the bowl season beginning this weekend, it's a good time to recap the overall ratings for college football in 2013. CBS, ESPN, and Fox finished up compared to 2012, while ABC and NBC were down.

CBS averaged 7.4 million viewers for their SEC telecasts in 2013, a 20% jump from 2012 and its best season since 2001. ABC ranked second in total viewers, averaging 4.8 million viewers per game. That's a 4% drop from 2012, and the lowest mark for ABC since at least 2009. NBC, saddled with a disappointing year from Notre Dame compared to their incredible 2012, averaged 3.3 million viewers – a drop of 24% from a year ago. However, NBC's viewership for the Fighting Irish were up from both 2010 and 2011. Fox brought up the rear among broadcast networks by averaging 3.1 million viewers, a healthy 10% jump from 2012.

Now, we're going to shift to cable, and unsurprisingly, ESPN was dominant once again. The Worldwide Leader averaged 2.6 million viewers per broadcast on their main network, which was slightly up by 2.6% from 2012. ESPN's viewership was flat from 2011, and down from 2009 and 2010. ESPN2 averaged 1.1 million viewers for game telecasts, an 8% jump from 2012, but that number was down from each year between 2009 and 2011. ESPNU was up to 400,000 viewers per game this year, a jump of 4% from 2012, and ESPNEWS averaged 162,000 viewers in their inaugural year of regularly-scheduled games.

Moving to the non-ESPN networks, results were a mixed bag. Fox Sports 1's debut season of games averaged 529,000 viewers, a 15% drop from 2012's limited schedule on FX (which isn't much of a surprise, to be honest). Then, there's the disaster that is NBCSN's college football viewership numbers, which fell to an average of just 62,000 viewers thanks to an FCS-heavy schedule featuring the Ivy League and CAA. A year ago, NBCSN averaged 101,000 viewers with a schedule chock-full of Mountain West games.

What did we learn from all of this? Well, not much. CBS had an incredible slate of games, in both pre-game hype and in-game excitement, and they reaped the rewards as a result. Notre Dame struggled, and NBC took it on the chin. Fox made some decent strides overall this year. But really, nothing on the landscape has really changed. ESPN and its family of networks is still the dominant player, while CBS continues to hum along at the top of the overall ratings heap. NBC is very reliant on Notre Dame being good to bring in ratings, while Fox is setting up the building blocks for a better foundation to their college football coverage than they did when they still owned the rights to the BCS and were roundly bashed.

[Sports Business Daily[

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.

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