Athens, GA (Dec 8, 2008) - The overnight ratings are in and one number for CBS Sports spells out why they paid so much for the 15 year extension of their contract with the Southeastern Conference" 10.4. Yes, CBS scored with 10.4 rating, with 21% of the viewing audience watching the game between Florida and Alabama. As reported on Sports Media Watch,
To put the 10.4 in perspective, it marks a better overnight rating than three World Series games, one NBA Finals game, the final round of The Masters and last year's Sugar, Orange and Fiesta Bowls.
and great ratings for networks airing the SEC Championship Game
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If these numbers hold up, it will not be the ratings record for the SEC title game. That honor currently belongs to the 1994 game, when Florida defeated Alabama 24-23. That game, the first time the game was played in the Georgia Dome and broadcast on ABC Sports, ran away with a 10.5 rating and a 26 share, the highest rated SEC Championship Game in history1.
What about the prime time Big 12 Championship over on ABC? It won the night with a comparatively paltry 2.8 rating (8% of adults 18-49) and CBS lagged behind with 1.3 rating (4% of adults 18-49).2
Once upon a time, not so many years ago, the SEC and Big 12 games went head to head in prime time (the 2003 game between LSU and Georgia had an 8:00 PM kickoff), but that has changed in recent years. Last year and this year, the game kicked off at 4:00, meaning there was no overlap between the SEC and Big 12 games.
Given how bad the Big 12 game was this year, one has to wonder what the numbers would have looked like if the games HAD gone head to head on prime time this year. Certainly, CBS would have won the night.
But would they have gotten all the hype that ESPN delivered for them this year? On one hand, the network had the Big 12 game on. On the other hand, they are about to embark on an expensive 15-year SEC deal of their own. There is not an easy answer for this question, if there is one at all. But it makes you want to say "hmmmm."
1SECSports.com - 2007 SEC Football Championship Game
2TV by the Numbers - Saturday Ratings: ABC, Oklahoma Win with Big 12 Conference Title Game
Sports Media Watch - SEC title game ratings best ever.