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LSU vs. Alabama Equals Ratings Gold for CBS

It may not have been as aesthetically pleasing as some casual football fans would have hoped, but Saturday’s showdown between the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide was a ratings monster.

According to CBS, LSU vs. Alabama was the network’s most-watched regular season college football spectacle in 22 years. With 20 million average viewers and a national household rating of 11.5 – there was a 161 percent boost from last year’s 4.4 mark. Specifically, ratings peaked at the 24.3 million figure during the last nine minutes of the game when the end was nigh and a winner was on the verge of being decided.

So who tuned in to watch the two top-tier defensive teams in the country knock each other senseless en route to a 9-6 game ultimately decided by a placekicker? Well, unsurprisingly Birmingham was the top-rated market for the evening pulling in a behemoth of a 56.4 rating. The other top markets for the game were: New Orleans, Nashville, Knoxville, Atlanta, Memphis, Columbus, Jacksonville, Greenville-Spartanburg, and Orlando.   

And the ratings boost couldn’t have come at a better time for CBS. Leading up to this game, the network’s SEC ratings had dipped 18 percent from 2010. This, as noted by Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News, was due in large part to the first seven such outings on the network having been decided by an average of 23 points.

It really shouldn’t come as any surprise that so many dedicated fans opted to tune in on Saturday night – especially given the reaction that this guy had when his Crimson Tide fell to the Tigers.

The other thing that no doubt peaked interest in this outing were the inevitable ramifications as they apply to the BCS, AP and Coaches Polls. With both teams staking a claim to the title of top team in the country, the chance to ultimately prove it was an eyeball magnet for the network hosting the whole shindig.

Now, with the ratings out there for all to see – the question becomes whether or not the numbers incentivize a rematch between these two teams for the BCS title at the end of the season. Even though technically a computer is supposed to decide who the top two teams are at the end of the year, would it really shock anyone if that magical “human element” that we sometimes hear about nudged things along in a given direction?

Of course, it’s debatable if anyone actually wants a rematch or, if seeing two teams exert 110 percent to put a cumulative 15 points on the board was better as a one-time thing.

We’ll find out soon enough.

Prior to this game, CBS hadn’t been able to attract this many eyes for a regular season outing since 1989 when 22.5 million people watched the Miami Hurricanes shock the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 27-10 in the regular season finale.


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