A compelling slate of SEC football games lifted CBS to the highest average of any network during the 2013 college football season.
The “SEC on CBS” was the top college football package of the 2013 regular season, averaging a 4.5 rating and 7.4 million viewers — up 15% in ratings and 20% in viewership from last year (3.9, 6.1M), and up 7% in both measures from 2011 (4.2, 6.9M). This year marked the highest rated and most-viewed season of the “SEC on CBS” since the package began in the 2001 season.
Keep in mind CBS does not release averages for its full college football schedule, which this season included two service academy games and the Mountain West Championship.
Ranking a distant second for the season, ABC’s “Saturday Night Football” package averaged a 3.5 and 5.8 million viewers, down 13% in ratings and 12% in viewership from last year (4.0, 6.5M). Overall, the network’s full slate of games averaged a 3.0 and 4.8 million — down 6% in ratings and 4% in viewership from last year (3.2, 5.0M), and down 14% in both measures from 2011 (3.5, 5.5M). Last year, ABC benefited from huge numbers for the Notre Dame/USC game (9.4, 16.1M).
Rounding out the broadcast networks, NBC averaged 3.3 million for Notre Dame football coverage (-24%) and FOX averaged 3.1 million (+10%). As Sports Business Daily noted, the increase on FOX was almost entirely attributable to the large numbers for the Big Ten Championship Game.
ESPN led all cable outlets, averaging a 1.7 and 2.6 million viewers for its coverage. ESPN2 averaged a 0.7 and 1.1 million, and ESPNU averaged a 0.3 and 400,000. All three networks were up slightly from last year. ESPNEWS, in its first season airing college football, averaged 162,000. Overall, the ESPN networks — ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS and ABC — averaged 1.8 million viewers for college football this year, down 8% from last year (2.0M).
Finally, Fox Sports 1 averaged 529,000 viewers in its first season coverage college football.