January 4, 2012

The Sked: Cable Ratings December 27-January 2

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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>New Year’s week was a busy one for cable.  Just as the NFL (on ESPN Monday and NFL Network Thursday) leaves the stage, BCS college football steps in to take its place at the top of the weekly cable rankings.  The Rose Bowl (the “granddaddy of them all”) on ESPN was the top-rated cable program of the week, with a 5.5 Adult 18-49 rating and over 17.5 million viewers of any age in an average minute of the game.  Another BCS game, the Fiesta Bowl (a thrilling overtime win by Oklahoma State after Stanford missed two field goals) scored a notch below (4.7 rating) immediately following the Rose Bowl. 

Not all bowls are created equal, however.  A total of 35 bowl games are played in December and January, and the vast majority (not part of the Bowl Championship Series) are completely irrelevant and end up in the low-1 rating range.  Compared to the best collegiate playoff system (March Madness for men’s basketball), the NCAA continues to serve up the worst system for college football by hanging on to a collection of “tradition-filled” bowls and pretending the BCS is some kind of a playoff format.  The ratings for a three-week, eight-team playoff for college football would be absolutely enormous.  Sure, 70 teams would no longer be able to say they were in a bowl game, and some sponsors would be disappointed.  (What? No more Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl?  No more Franklin America Mortgage Music City Bowl?)  Somehow, I think the NCAA and the football conferences would find a way to make it after they received bids for a true playoff system that would provide ratings between a 7 and 12 across several weeks.  

A three-week playoff would start with eight teams in late December, four teams would play the second week around January 1, and the final game would be played around January 8, roughly the current date for the national championship.  The dates could be worked around the NFL schedule (the early round games on Friday/Saturday, the Jan 1 and Jan 8 games on whatever day of the week those dates fall — unless January 1 is a Sunday; the dates would push to Jan 2 and 9).

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.