The SEC Network launched this August with impressive numbers in terms of distribution. The network claimed 60 million subscribers and availability in over 90 million homes. Those numbers are right at what the Big 10 network has.
So how many folks tuned in to see Texas A&M thump South Carolina on August 28th?
We aren't sure and ESPN wants it that way -- for the moment.
Justin Connolly, ESPN Senior Vice President for College Networks, has stated that they may go an entire season without releasing ratings for the fledgling network.
"That was by design," he said. "The idea is to get ratings in Year 2, focus on distribution in Year 1. We have widespread distribution in the SEC footprint and nationally so we're reevaluating. We may get rated sooner than we originally thought."
So how about an educated guess?
ESPNU is currently in 74 million homes. So far this season, college football games on that channel pulled numbers such as 976,000 (South Carolina vs. East Carolina) and 959,000 for Nebraska vs. McNeese State.
My guess is that the Texas A&M-South Carolina game drew over a million viewers, but not much more.
The Aggies game with Lamar was also on the SEC Network, and I imagine the number for that game was more in line with Missouri-South Dakota State (373,000) on ESPNU.
A couple of other media notes:
The Big 12 is happy with the money they are pulling from Fox for its part of the TV contract, but with the network using the inventory to try and build up FS1 as a competitor for ESPN, the exposure is not great.
On Sept. 6th, FS1 had a Big 12 triple header.
11:00 am central: Kansas State-Iowa State drew 596,000
6:30 pm central: Texas-BYU had an audience of 910,000
10:00 pm central: Texas Tech-UTEP had 447,000
That same night (6:00 pm) Auburn-San Jose State drew 1.2 million viewers on ESPN2.
Playing on FOX on the broadcast network is also a recipe for lower ratings than the other networks.
The Texas-UCLA game featured two "brand" names in prime time (7:00 pm), was competitive to the end, and it had an audience of 2.65 million.
Kent State at Ohio State drew 2.96 million on ABC in the early afternoon (11:00 AM), Arkansas vs. Texas Tech had 3.28 million viewers in the late afternoon slot, and the OU-Tennessee contest had 3.76 million also at 7:00 pm on ABC.
The highest rated college game of the day was the Georgia-South Carolina contest which had 6.77 million viewers.