BCS National Championship Game 2013: Epic Contest Draws Huge Television Ratings

Alex KayCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2013

Jan 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) celebrates with his family after the 2013 BCS Championship game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Sun Life Stadium. Alabama won 42-14.  Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 BCS National Championship Game may have been a one-sided blowout victory for the Alabama Crimson Tide over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, but a lot of people stuck around to see it.

Aside from the 80,120 people packed inside Sun Life Stadium—a record-breaking crowd—the national title game reportedly drew a 15.7 overnight rating (according to Darren Heitner of Forbes.com).

80,120 in the building Sun Life Stadium record, breaks record set at 2009 BCS title game between Oklahoma and Florida

— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) January 8, 2013

To put that in perspective, the Crimson Tide’s shellacking of the LSU Tigers in 2012 only drew a 13.8 overnight rating. Last year’s championship game rematch of a regular season contest was the third-least viewed title game in the 15-year-history of the BCS system.

In 2013, there was a solid 14 percent increase in overall viewership for the BCS Championship compared to last year, and Heitner reported 17 different markets broke rating records for an ESPN-televised bowl game (based on measurements that began back in 2000).

It just shows how many fans across the nation were interesting in seeing two of the most historic programs in college football history take the field with everything on the line.

Both the Notre Dame and ‘Bama faithful came out in droves, and these viewership numbers prove how far-reaching the grasp of these two programs goes.

The Tide and Irish are national powerhouses with fans across the world, so it’s no surprise that Monday night’s game was must-see television for a ton of these supporters.

However, casual observers weren’t as awestruck by the matchup, as this title game didn’t come close to breaking the record of a 21.7 Nielsen rating—set back in 2006 in an epic contest between the Texas Longhorns and Southern California Trojans.

This ‘Bama versus Notre Dame showdown also fell short of the 17.4 ratings earned in back-to-back years by Florida versus Ohio State in 2007 and LSU versus the Buckeyes in 2008.

One reason for this may just be college football viewership in general, which—according to Rachel Cohen of the Associated Press—was lower than expected in 2012.

Regular-season viewership, while still strong, was down for college football this year. On ESPN's networks, the average audience decreased more than 10 percent on ABC, almost 4 percent on ESPN, and nearly 13 percent on ESPN2 from 2011. SEC games on CBS also dropped 10 percent.

Regardless, 2013 wasn’t a failure, and a 15.7 Nielsen rating for an ESPN televised event is nothing to scoff at. If only the contest were a bit closer, or AJ McCarron’s girlfriend received more screen time, there might have been a chance at the record. 


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