The two most-viewed college football games of the season took place on Championship Saturday.
The Auburn/Missouri SEC Championship Game drew an 8.6 final rating and 14.3 million viewers on CBS last Saturday, down 12% in ratings and 11% in viewership from Alabama/Georgia last year (9.8, 16.2M), but up 18% and 20%, respectively, from LSU/Georgia in 2011 (7.3, 12.0M). Excluding games involving Alabama, Saturday’s game ranks as the top SEC title game since CBS acquired rights.
The SEC Championship Game ranks as the highest rated and most-viewed college football telecast of the season. The previous highs were an 8.5 for Alabama/Texas A&M in week three and 13.8 million for Alabama/Auburn in week fourteen.
The Big Ten Championship Game was also an impressive draw. The Michigan State/Ohio State game drew a 7.9 final rating and 13.9 million viewers on FOX, up 172% in ratings and viewership from Wisconsin/Nebraska last year (2.9, 5.1M), and up 72% and 79%, respectively, from Wisconsin/Michigan State in 2011 (4.6, 7.8M).
Michigan State/Ohio State ranks as the fourth-highest rated and second-most viewed game of the season, trailing only Auburn/Missouri in the latter category. The game also ranks as the top college football telecast on FOX — including bowls — since the network last aired the BCS.
Ranking a distant third for the week, the Oklahoma/Oklahoma State ‘Bedlam’ game drew a 4.7 final rating and 7.3 million viewers on ABC, albeit opposite limited competition. The game ranks as the top Big 12 telecast of the season.
Later in the day, the Florida State/Duke ACC Championship Game drew a 3.4 rating and 5.7 million viewers on ABC — up 183% in ratings and 188% in viewership from Florida State/Georgia Tech on ESPN last year (1.2, 2.0M), up 113% and 106%, respectively, from Clemson/Virginia Tech on ESPN in 2011 (1.6, 2.8M), and the top ACC title game in six years.
Rounding out the top five in the final week of the regular season, FOX drew a 2.3 and 3.8 million for Texas/Baylor opposite the SEC title game.
In other action on last weekend, the MAC Championship Game on ESPN2 (1.2, 1.9M) outdrew the Pac-12 (0.9, 1.5M), Mountain West (1.1, 1.7M) and Conference USA (0.3, 449K) title games. Keep in mind the MAC game aired on a Friday night with no college football competition.
No game was a bigger bust last weekend than the South Florida/Rutgers tilt on ESPN2, which earned a 0.1 U.S. rating and 200,000 viewers.
(Week 15 finals from Nielsen, Son of the Bronx)