Blowout hurts NFL, Alphabet drums up strong numbers

Even with two games having a direct impact on the national championship, collective ratings for college football’s Bowl Championship Series games on ABC were down a bit vs. a year ago.

The controversy swirling around this year’s postseason college action figured to help ABC drum up especially strong numbers for both the Rose and Sugar Bowls, but ratings for the latter on Sunday weren’t all that sweet.

The Sugar Bowl game between Louisiana State and Oklahoma — deemed this year’s BCS title game — netted a 14.4 rating/22 share in metered-market overnights, according to Nielsen. This reps a sharp dropoff from last year’s huge 18.6/29 for the overtime Ohio State-Miami title game in the Fiesta Bowl and marks the second lowest in six years for the championship game.

Game, which delivered a 53.6/70 in Oklahoma City and a 50.8/64 in New Orleans, still dominated all of its primetime competish and made ABC an easy winner on the night.

Rosy returns

Three days earlier, USC’s victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl delivered a 14.5 rating/24 share — up 27% from last year’s Oklahoma-Washington State game (11.4/19) and the best overnight score for the granddaddy of bowl games in six years. National ratings released Monday show the game averaging 23.87 million viewers and a strong 7.9/24 in adults 18-49.

USC and LSU wound up splitting the national championship for the 2003 season, with the Trojans winning the AP sportswriters poll and the Tigers claiming the coaches poll. Some insiders believe USC’s convincing victory in the Rose Bowl may have rendered Sunday’s Sugar Bowl anti-climactic for some viewers.

Overall, the four BCS contests averaged an 11.8/19 in the overnights, down from last year’s 12.5/20. National ratings for the Sugar Bowl will be issued today.

Blowout hurts NFL

Prelim ratings for the NFL’s opening weekend of playoff action, meanwhile, were also down a bit — due in part to a blowout game in the key late Sunday slot (Indianapolis-Denver).

The four professional postseason games totaled a 70.0 rating in Nielsen’s metered markets, down 7% from last year’s 75.3 but up 5% over the 66.7 two years ago.

Weekend’s highest-rated game was the early Sunday battle between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks on Fox (20.1/39), virtually flat with last year’s Cleveland-Pittsburgh early game on CBS (20.2/39). The late Sunday game on CBS — a blowout victory for Indianapolis over Denver — posted an 18.0/30, off 17% from last year’s New York Giants-San Francisco 49ers game on Fox (21.6/34).

Mixed results

On Saturday, ABC’s coverage of the competitive Tennessee-Baltimore contest delivered a 15.4/29 in the overnights, up 2% from last year’s early game (15.1/28 for Colts-Jets). The late game (Dallas-Carolina) scored a 16.5/26, down 10% from last year’s Green Bay-Atlanta matchup.

Highest local-market NFL ratings over the weekend came from Milwaukee (48.7/74 for the Packers on Fox), Indianapolis (44.0/61 for the Colts on CBS) and Nashville (42.0/65 for the Titans on ABC).

The NFL playoffs resume with the conference semifinals this weekend, including a primetime Saturday contest on CBS (New England vs. Tennessee).

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