When you think of dominant college football TV properties, you think of the SEC on CBS. Or at least, you did.
Last year, SEC on CBS was the highest-rated regular season college football package on any network for the seventh-consecutive year. The SEC football package pulled in a 3.4 rating and 8 share on average, which was down from the previous year (4.0 rating for the season) but still good enough to eke out the victory over ABC’s Saturday Night Football.
Perhaps it’s the drop-off in quality amongst SEC schools or maybe it’s due to spot match-ups but whatever the case, it looks like that reign of southern football terror might be coming to an end, at least in the ratings war.
ABC/ESPN has announced that, through college football’s first five weeks, ABC’s Saturday Night Football is averaging a total live audience (TV + Streaming) of 6,201,000 viewers, which makes it the most-watched college football franchise on any network. Broken down, they say their TV audience actually comes out to 5,659,000 viewers with an additional 101,000 on the streaming side. Those numbers are up 16 percent and 90 percent, respectively.
The announcement comes on the heels of Saturday Night Football broadcast of the game between No. 3 Louisville at No. 5 Clemson, which generated a total live audience of 9,494,000 viewers. According to the release, that’s the third most-watched October Saturday Night Football game ever. It was also up 23 percent from the Notre Dame – Clemson game that was broadcast this week last season.
There’s still a lot of season to be played and broadcast before we officially crown Saturday Night Football the new champ. Some of the best SEC match-ups have yet to be broadcast, including the upcoming top ten showdown between Texas A&M and Tennessee as well as future games involving No. 1 Alabama, including the Iron Bowl.
Recent SEC broadcasts on CBS have been a mixed bag, even with exciting finishes. Despite an epic finish, last week’s Georgia – Tennessee game drew a 2.5 rating, down 40 percent from Alabama – Georgia game in the same spot last season. The Florida – Tennessee game the week before earned 5.5 million viewers, which was up 19 percent from the same matchup in 2015.