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BCS title game does well on TV

January 10, 2007|Larry Stewart

Even though Monday night's Bowl Championship Series title game was decided by halftime, the "fast national" rating was a solid 17.4 with a 27 share of the audience, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Nielsen estimates that all or part of the game -- in which Florida beat Ohio State, 41-14 -- was seen by more than 58.4 million viewers in the U.S., with an average audience at any one time of 28.7 million. The only higher prime-time rating this season was a 17.8 for ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" on Nov. 15.

The highest-rated and most-watched program this season during any part of the day was Sunday's wild-card game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles on Fox, getting an 18.2 national rating and averaging 29.7 million viewers.

The rating for the BCS title game was higher than expected, given the lopsided score and how ratings for Fox's three other BCS bowl games had been down.

The Orange Bowl's 7.0 was the lowest of the 37 BCS bowl games that have been played since 1998. Even Boise State's 43-42 victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl got only an 8.4 rating.

Fox Sports Chairman David Hill on Tuesday called the championship game's rating "fantastic" and noted that the fans there didn't give up. Apparently, neither did television viewers.

Asked if the last-second drama of the Fiesta Bowl might have been a factor in holding Monday's audience, he said, "You can't dismiss it."

Hill and Fox Sports President Ed Goren plan to talk with BCS officials about ways to improve the setup. This is the first year of a four-year deal for Fox. Asked what suggestions he has, Hill said, "Shortening the halftime." Ideally, Fox would also get the Rose Bowl, he said. But ESPN-ABC has it through 2014.

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-- Larry Stewart

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