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« MIAC Profiles of Excellence: Dan Andersen, Hamline UniversityCSN West: Three is A Magic Number »

Permalink 12/16/09 , The CSN Way, CSN Columns

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The CSN Way: Record Breaking Viewership for App State/Montana

floated rightBy Chuck Burton, The CSN Way Columnist

The Saturday Appalachian State/Montana thriller got a 1.87 cable rating on Saturday on ESPN, making it the highest-rated Division I semifinal game ever, the highest-rated FCS game on ESPN and the highest rated Division I playoff game since 1994.

In addition to this milestone, this Saturday’s game reached the highest number of estimated households (1,857,000) and viewers (4,735,350) than any previous Division I playoff contest on cable television, thanks to ESPN, ESPN360 and syndication.


Behind the Numbers
Last Saturday’s game showed an amazing improvement in viewership no matter how you measure it: against last year’s semifinal on ESPN leading into the Heisman Trophy Awards presentation (Richmond at Northern Iowa; FCS Semifinal, 2008; 1.43 cable rating), or against the last FCS playoff game involving Montana (Montana vs. Richmond, FCS Championship game at Chattanooga, TN; 1.0 cable rating) or Appalachian State (Delaware vs. Appalachian State, FCS Championship game at Chattanooga, TN; 1.51 cable rating).

Top Nine FCS Postseason Games, By U.S. Household Ratings Share

  1. 1990, Georgia Southern vs. Nevada, I-AA Final at Statesboro, GA (CBS, 2.3 share)
  2. 1991, Youngstown State vs. Marshall, I-AA Final at Statesboro, GA (CBS, 2.0 share)
  3. 1992, Marshall vs. Youngstown State, I-AA Final at Huntington, WV (CBS, 1.9 share)
  4. 1993, Youngstown State vs. Marshall, I-AA Final at Huntington, WV (CBS, 1.8 share)
  5. 1994, Youngstown State vs. Boise State, I-AA Final at Huntington, WV (CBS, 1.7 share)
  6. 2009, Appalachian State at Montana, FCS Semifinal (ESPN, 1.6 share)
  7. 2007, Delaware at Southern Illinois, FCS Semifinal (ESPN, 1.4 share)
  8. 2007, Delaware vs. Appalachian State, FCS Final at Chattanooga, TN (ESPN2, 1.3 share)
  9. 2008, Richmond at Northern Iowa, FCS Semifinal (ESPN, 1.2 share)

Interestingly, semifinal games on ESPN have historically outperformed broadcasts of the semifinals - and championship games - on ESPN2. This year’s Friday semifinal game (William & Mary at Villanova) managed a 0.86 cable rating, or 846,000 households and 2,157,300 viewers. When judging it against other FCS semifinal games on ESPN2 in terms of estimated viewership, it places at No. 6.

Top Six FCS Semifinal Games On ESPN2, By Estimated Viewership

  1. 2005, Furman at Appalachian State (ESPN2, 1.17 Cable Rating, 2,644,653 Viewers)
  2. 2008, Montana at James Madison (ESPN2, 1.02 Cable Rating, 2,527,050 Viewers)
  3. 2006, UMass at Montana (ESPN2, 1.01 Cable Rating, 2,359,405 Viewers)
  4. 2007, Richmond at Appalachian State (ESPN2, 0.96 Cable Rating, 2,348,078
  5. 2005, Northern Iowa at Texas State (ESPN2, 0.97 Cable Rating, 2,201,123
  6. 2009, William & Mary vs. Villanova (ESPN2, 0.86 Cable Rating, 2,157,300 Viewers)

If this year’s FCS Championship game, broadcast on ESPN2, can exceed the viewership numbers of last year’s final (1.24 Cable Rating and 3 million viewers), it would be in the Top 10 FCS playoff viewership ratings of all time. In addition, if it can exceed the viewership numbers of the 2007 final (1.51 cable rating and 3.7 million viewers) it would be the most viewed FCS championship game ever on ESPN2.

Note: Estimated viewership numbers between cable and broadcast television are not comparable. Statistics are courtesy of The Nielsen Company, ESPN and the NCAA.