During the heady buildup to the Alabama-Notre Dame BCS title game, several reporters stated that the TV ratings for these two national brands might break the all-time record of the Texas-USC contest of 35 million viewers.
Mr. Football (Tony Barnhart) was drinking the kool-aid.
"The greatest game we've ever had in the BCS was Texas and USC. But our TV guys are telling me that if this game stays close, it's going to break the record," said Tony Barnhart, a columnist for CBSSports.com and a regular on CBS college football analysis shows. "USC and Texas are great programs, but they're not the great brand names of Notre Dame and Alabama."
Even those brand names need a competitive contest.
The early returns for Monday nights blowout win by 'Bama point to a very nice number for ESPN but nowhere near the record.
Overnight ratings for the game were 15.7 which translates to 26.8 million viewers. That is better than last year's SEC rematch between LSU and Alabama (22 Million) but not as good as the Auburn-Oregon game (28 Million).
A 28-0 halftime score killed any chance of the contest hitting 30 million, and the game being on cable also hurt. 14% of the TV households in the U.S. still do not get ESPN. The number was still just fine with the WWL as it is among the highest for a cable program in years.
Overall the ratings for the 35 bowl games this year were steady compared to the last couple of seasons. Bowl attendance took a real hit this season, and many of the game were busts in terms of being competitive.
The final number on the Cotton Bowl was 11.9 million -- more viewers than two BCS games (the Sugar -10.1M & the Orange 10.6 M)
We will take a more detailed look at the Bowl Ratings in a future post.