America Tired of Alabama Dominance? Numbers Could Say Differently.
By: Larry Burton
There were those that said an all Southeastern Conference national championship would cause viewers in other parts of the country to stay away in droves. Folks said the country is sick of Nick Saban and Alabama’s dominance and that ratings would suffer for the Tide being in yet another title game. Those people were wrong.
ESPN’s final count showed that just shy of 30 million folks watched the Alabama / Georgia title game making it the second most watched cable program in the entire history of television.
While that surely includes millions who were simply watching and hoping to see Alabama lose, the fact was they were watching.
So the committee’s work to put the best four teams in the country in the final two contests clearly went well. First of all, it’s hard to argue now that Alabama was not one of the four best teams since they best two of the other three top teams. Secondly, despite the calls to avoid another possible all SEC championship game, the committee stuck by their guns and integrity in selecting not the four best teams for possible viewership, for possible best cross country representation and for conference champions of questionable quality conferences. They indeed went for the four best teams and clearly the top two were from the SEC.
And the country obviously agreed with these huge viewership numbers. This past week ESPN announced that the figures also included 1.5 million viewers who streamed the game to personal devices. This figure does not include the worldwide audience, just the US market, but overall worldwide ratings were also higher than previous projections given. On a personal basis, I travel the world and when I’m in Alabama gear, I’ve gotten a “Roll Tide Mate!” from an Aussie in Australia, a “Roll Tide mi ami!” in Paris and a “Sweet Home Alabama!” in Russia.
Now I’m sure that Georgia fans would love to take credit for some of those numbers and certainly that wouldn’t be without some merit, but clearly the vast numbers turned in to see if Alabama’s dominance could be stopped or if the Saban era swing would continue their momentum.
Clearly from an excitement standpoint, the game didn’t disappoint. It had everything a great game could have, big names, big surprises, big comebacks and a fantastic ending. Whether you were a Tide, Bulldog or SEC fan or a fan from the left out PAC 10 or Big Ten, it was a game that kept you watching.
One would have wondered how the rating would have gone if Alabama had jumped out to a 26-0 lead at halftime, perhaps people would have turned channels, but this all speculation. What isn’t is that viewership was sky high for the game in all parts of the country and it proved that when it comes to pulling in the viewers, people are not fatigued with seeing Alabama too much or win too much.
So while the team owes a lot to the integrity of the College Football Playoff Committee, the team and fans also should thank the entire US for watching the game and proving that Alabama / SEC fatigue is not hurting college football and that this is just a myth. People love good football and the Crimson Tide and the SEC certainly provide that and they will keep supplying it for the foreseeable future.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter