Irish eyes smiling on college football
Notre Dame wins a ticket to the national championship
November 26, 2012
Notre Dame’s return to prominence more than two decades after winning its last national championship should mean big ratings for the upcoming college bowl season.
The Fighting Irish closed out an undefeated regular season Saturday night on ABC in the season’s highest-rated college football game, capping a fall in which ratings grew sharply on regular carrier NBC as well.
Saturday’s 22-13 victory over USC averaged 13.9 million total viewers and a 4.4 adults 18-49 rating in primetime, according to Nielsen overnights.
Those numbers measure only timeslot data and do not account for time zone differences; the average will likely go up when final ratings are released tomorrow.
The game also averaged a 10.3 household rating, the highest for any college football game on ABC in six years, since No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan faced off.
And it far outrated the season’s second-highest-rated game this fall, CBS’s 7.0 for the Alabama-LSU contest.
The gains came after the Fighting Irish averaged a 2.8 household rating on NBC this season, shooting up 67 percent over last year.
It was NBC’s best average for a Notre Dame season since 2006.
Though Notre Dame hasn’t won a national championship since 1988, it remains the premier brand in college football, with a storied tradition and legion of fans across the country.
It’s the only school with a network contract and the only one capably of lifting TV ratings by double-digit percentages when it plays in a postseason game.
That bodes well for ESPN, which will carry Notre Dame’s first appearance in the BCS national championship game on Jan. 7.
The Irish will play either Alabama or Georgia, who face off for the SEC title and a berth in the BCS title game this weekend. It’s a good bet that ESPN, which has only carried the BCS for two years, will set a new cable record for the championship game.
In fact, the network could even outdraw the BCS record set by Texas and USC on ABC seven years ago, a contest that averaged a 21.7 in households.
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