Thanks to the presence of two iconic football programs, it was thought that the Alabama-Notre Dame BCS championship could possibly set television viewership records.
“It sets up really remarkable possibilities,” Burke Magnus, ESPN‘s senior vice president for college sports programming, told the Associated Press a couple of days before the title tilt.
Thanks to the Tide’s woodshedding of the Irish, it couldn’t even match the numbers from a couple of years ago.
The overnight TV numbers are in, and the Tide-Irish matchup on ESPN drew a respectable 15.7 overnight rating, peaking at 18.2 in the first half as the Tide rolled to a 28-0 lead. While the overall numbers were up 14 percent from Alabama’s rout of LSU last year — the lowest of the BCS era — it was far off the record 21.7 overnight rating pulled in by the Texas-USC instant classic following the 2005 season.
Hell, it couldn’t even best the 16.1 rating for Auburn-Oregon after the 2010 season, the first title game that wasn’t broadcast on network television. In fairness, no other title game has come close to matching that perfect storm of numbers thrown out there by Texas-USC, either; Florida State-Oklahoma at a 17.8 following the 2000 season was the next highest.
The Associated Press notes “[o]vernight ratings measure the country’s largest markets” and that “ESPN expected full viewership numbers later Tuesday” so there could be some upward tweaking of the numbers.