Tim Brando & I disagree about the CFP Championship game’s TV ratings

Am I living in the clouds? Maybe!

What was ESPN promised? What SHOULD the numbers be?

If I believed that the college football championship viewership should decisively be the second most-watched television program of the year every year I’d be right there with Tim.  But I have trouble coming up with a reasonable basis for believing the CFP championship game should be the second most-watched program on TV.

I also have no basis for knowing whether ESPN was promised better numbers than it’s getting and even less basis for making assumptions about what the numbers should be. But I have pretty good basis for thinking that if I ask ESPN’s Burke Magnus if he’s happy with how the college football playoff system is performing that whether on or off the record he’d tell me he was satisfied with the results. 

I’m not put off by down 13% year over year for a game that was a blowout for most of the second half.

Last year’s championship game that did 27+ million was the fourth most-watched program of 2018 in primetime trailing the Super Bowl, the NFC conference championship and the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. If I’m Burke Magnus I don’t think “No, that can’t be right!” Instead I think “that’s about where I expected that to come in!” This year’s viewership came in lower at just over 25 million, but given the second half blowout it doesn’t inspire any “No, that can’t be right!” thinking on my part. 

2006 Texas-USC championship that did over 35 million viewers on a broadcast network was the high bar

And it still had slightly fewer viewers than last Sunday evening’s Eagles/Bears NFC Wild Card game. Yes, 25 million is a lot less than 35 million, but given that 35+ million is the high bar and the 13 years that have elapsed, the rather dramatic shifts in the TV landscape in those 13 years, the transition from broadcast to cable and that you’re just not going to get a great game/matchup like 2006 every year, I’d take it.

The NCAA “leadership” didn’t dig their heels in over the New Year’s Eve thing

The CFP committee was harshly (and fairly!) criticized for hubristically thinking it could turn New Year’s Eve into a night where everyone stayed home to watch college football instead of going out to revel but in their defense, when it was clear pretty early on that it wasn’t going to work the CFP didn’t double-down and instead worked with their partner ESPN to come up with something that worked better for both ESPN and fans.

Bill Hancock seemed to throw up his hands and say ’No harm in trying!” but at least he moved off of it faster than a lot of people might have expected.  

None of the NYE stuff suggests the playoff and championship ratings couldn’t be better but it at least suggests that ESPN’s relationship with the CFP folks is pretty good.

You can’t engineer Yankees/Cubs, OSU/Michigan, OSU/Notre Dame or USC/Texas every year

Ask your boy Mike Mulvihill — if he can’t pull it off what chance do Tim Brando or I have? You pay your money and you take your chances. 

Fox, knowing full well that it likely needs a Yankees/Cubs game 7, or maybe Red Sox/Cubs game 7 (or maybe Indians/Cubs game 7 in a rematch) to ever outdo the 40+ million for Indians/Cubs game 7 is still all-in on MLB even though the World Series only went 5 games and game 5 “only” did 17.6 million viewers.

And to get that 40+ million, Fox and MLB had to endure many less attractive series like Giants/Rangers, Giants/Tigers and Giants/Royals. I didn’t care, I’m a Giants fan! Though from Fox’s and MLB’s perspective maybe all those Giants series weren’t optimal, but oh well, what can you do? This is the business you have chosen.

I’m fine with playoff expansion, just doubtful that it would significantly and predictably boost ratings for the championship

I love the idea of expanding the playoffs! Bring it on! And agree with Tim that might entice more of the country to get in on the festivities and I don’t see how that could be bad. It’s not unreasonable to think the NCAA/CFP & ESPN could do more still to get more people watching the CFP. 

But I don’t get having a very strong reaction to Monday night’s results any more than I’d get Mulvihill or Eric Shanks freaking out about no game of the 2018 World Series topping viewership of 20 million since it only went 5 games. Notably, Mulvihill and Shanks did not freak out about the 2018 World Series.

Tim can ask around…

This article has 1 Comment

  1. The CFB playoffs should have 8 teams, including all Power Five champions. Therefore, the five conference championship games would be de facto playoff gaems as well.

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