Crimson Tide national championship dominated TV ratings in Birmingham, Southeast

Crimson Tide national championship dominated TV ratings in Birmingham, Southeast
Alabama running back Derrick Henry celebrates a touchdown. (Kent Gidley/UA Athletics)

Monday night’s national championship game between the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson University Tigers may have been close on the scoreboard but there was no contest in the television ratings.

Birmingham led the nation among the television markets measured with Nielsen meters.

According to Nielsen, a 59.2 share of televisions in the Birmingham area were tuned to the championship game. Greenville, S.C., was a distant second with a 39 share of televisions tuned into the game.

Nielsen measures shares of the audience based on the percentage of households watching television at a given time.

Rounding out the Top 10 of metered markets were Atlanta (30.1 share), Nashville (29.1), Knoxville (28.4), New Orleans (25.6), Jacksonville (24.8), Columbus, Ohio, (23), Charlotte (22.8) and West Palm Beach, Fla. (20.3).

“It confirms what we all know: Birmingham is ground zero when it comes to college football,” said Darin White, coordinator of Samford University’s Sports Marketing Program and chairman of the American Marketing Association Sports Marketing Academic Society. “We love college football with a level of intensity not matched anywhere in the country.”

Viewership was down 23 percent nationally compared to last year’s championship game, though Monday’s game still drew 25.7 million viewers.

White said there are reasons why the inaugural playoff championship game between Ohio State and Oregon had higher numbers nationally.

“Last year was the first one, so there was the novelty of it all that accounted for some of the audience,” White said. “You also had a more national game between Ohio State and Oregon compared to a more regional game this year with two teams from the Southeast playing. In addition, Alabama and South Carolina are not very large states to begin with.”

While some are bemoaning the lower national ratings, the viewership for major sporting events is still coveted by advertisers in this DVR world. A live game is not something most people want to record to watch later just so they can fast forward through commercials.

“That’s exactly why we’re seeing sports spending exploding,” White said. “Sports is really the best thing we have on live television that can draw millions of eyeballs at one time.”

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