The SEC has an ungrateful viewership problem.

Boy, this news oughta strengthen Mike Slive’s hand in the TV contract negotiations tremendously.

CBS viewership for SEC regular-season football games declined 15 percent in 2012, averaging a 3.4 rating that was the lowest since 2008.

It’s the second straight year viewership has declined.

Jon Solomon seems to indicate there’s a matchup problem.

One reason why ratings are down: Blowouts. Dating back to the end of 2010, 17 of the past 30 SEC on CBS games have been decided by at least 21 points. During one stretch that extended into this season, 13 out of 18 games were convincing victories.

The SEC’s average margin of victory on CBS this season is 19.8 points. CBS had the first pick of SEC games except for two weeks when ESPN selected first as the result of a trade from 2011.

There was a significant divide among the quality of SEC teams this season. The top 6 SEC teams — Alabama, Georgia, Florida, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M — had a 30-0 record against the bottom eight teams.

The top six SEC teams accounted for 68 percent of the league’s regular-season appearances on CBS. Yet only 5 of CBS’ 14 SEC games paired two top-6 teams against each other. Those games were decided by an average of 11.6 points.

You know why there’s a matchup problem?  Because the fourteen-team conference insists on sticking with an eight-game schedule.  If there are an equal number of quality teams in each division, you can’t get enough attractive games put together when the cross-division schedule is so unbalanced.

Facts are stubborn things.  It’s either that, or we fans should just suck it up and watch, if we know what’s good for us.

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34 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

34 responses to “The SEC has an ungrateful viewership problem.

  1. The other Doug

    Adding NC State and Vtech would fix it.

  2. Bulldawg165

    Yes! Maybe now we’ll go to a 9 game conference schedule!

  3. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Slive’s strategy of having SEC refs cheat to insure that the underdog never wins as a means of assuring that the best SEC teams get into the highest paying bowl games seems to have had an unintended consequence.

  4. Slive the Impaler

    You people need to stay bent over and keep your wordholes closed please.

  5. Irwin R Fletcher

    Jon Solomon seems to like throwing poop at a wall, too…ratings are still 10% to 20% higher than they were in 2006 and 2007 when there were fewer than 14 teams and there were also blowouts and ‘matchup’ problems…

    “The SEC averaged a 3.1 in the 2006 regular season and dipped to a 2.8 the next season.”

    It’s a nice story to tell if you hate expansion and want a balanced schedule, but there seems to be zero correlation to the ratings whatsoever. The bigger problem to me was that the

    “Ratings rose each year from 2008 to 2010, a period when CBS heavily aired Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Alabama”…ah yes, Tim Tebow.

    Considering the second highest rated game of the season was Bama vs. A&M (which got a 6.1 rating in the 3:30 slot almost passing the 6.2 pulled in by Bama v. LSU) featuring a probably Heisman trophy winner who will be on campus at least another 2 years, I’m guessing Slive isn’t sweating it.

    And just as a point #2, CBS picked bad games and got screwed not because there weren’t compelling matchups, but because too many of them got played on the same day.

    So instead of having Tennessee v. Florida…they had Bama v. Arky the week after Arky lost to ULM. They ended up with Tennessee vs. UGA instead of UGA v. South Carolina b/c it was the same day as Florida v. LSU. They inexplicably went with Alabama at Mizzou instead of LSU v. USCar. Auburn was just terrible and killed both their double-header matchup with UGA-AU and the Iron Bowl.

    Anyway, I’m all for expanding conference play to 9, but if you go down this trail, it’s going to come back and hit you in the face next year…

    • Cojones

      There is a lot to be said for getting your own data and contesting other data that tries to lead you down a rose-strewn alley. Good post , but consider that the contra stand will not go unpunished.

      I’m in full agreement that the data doesn’t warrant the conclusions.

    • Slaw Dawg

      I got to kinda agree with Irwin on this. I’m 1000% in favor of AT LEAST a 9 game SEC schedule, even w/o expansion, but there may be other reasons for the drop in TV eyeballs than not enough SEC games. For ex: could saturation be one? You can watch almost any game now on TV or the net. I also think long (lengthening?) TV time outs and the interminable play reviews disrupt rhythm and encourage channel changing. And to what extent do the #s take into account DVRing? If I’m watching on TV, I habitually DVR the game and start watching late, or maybe when it’s already over. I’m getting older and have only so much time to devote to meaningless advertising drivel (esp when I could be spending it on college football websites!).

      On top of everything else, I sometimes get the uneasy feeling that to many casual college fb fans, the whole thing’s become a puzzling mess. Why should anyone other than Rutgers and Louisville care that they played a Big East “title” game when neither will even be in the Big East next year? Who gives a shit about Tech vs FSU? Apparently, not even their fans do. Compelling dependable classics of yore (Tx v TAMU, OU v Neb, etc) are gone, too.

      In short, this could be about a combination of plain old over-exposure and cheapening the product. Aesop’s fable about a certain golden egg laying goose is constantly revalidated!

    • The984

      Yes. Part of the problem was definitely CBS making so many decisions before the season even began. Rather than waiting to see how teams pan out, they picked up Bama/Arky before a single football was snapped on the season.

      • Alkaline

        IIRC the ESPN “trade” games left CBS w/o a real marquee matchup to show for a couple of weeks. They could be shooting themselves in the foot purposefully to strengthen their position in the next round of negotiations.

        • The984

          I still don’t understand how ESPN got any bargaining power over this. I’ve always thought CBS had first pick of SEC games each week. What did CBS do differently last year which somehow put ESPN in a position to require a “trade” of sorts?

          • DawgPhan

            I think it had to do with the Bama/LSU night game on CBS. Seems like Verne was explaining something along those lines on the radio on week here in ATL.

            • 79Dawg

              A “trade” was necessary because CBS only gets 1 primetime game a year; other than that 1 week, ESPN gets to air all primetime SEC games (although it can release them to the lower-tier outlets like FSN, CSS, local TV if it doesn’t want them). Last year, CBS wanted to put the “Game of the Century” BAMA/LSWho in primetime, but had already used its 1 primetime game to show (I believe) Florida/LSWho. For agreeing to the switch, ESPN got to the first pick for 2 weeks this year before CBS could make its pick.

  6. UFTimmy

    I agree with your premise, but this season should have had better cross over games, at least according to preseason projections. It just didn’t work out that way, largely due to Arkansas.

    Still, 9 games or bust.

  7. Scott

    I wish we could kick out a couple of teams. 14 is too big. How about dumping MSU and Vandy?

  8. Careful Brad

    Anybody pull the ratings in Montana?

  9. Debby Balcer

    I miss the CBS to go watch in person. I watch The DAWGS on tv and after them other SEC games CBS did not have the games I wanted to see when I was home.

  10. BulldogBen

    Not to hijack but anyone getting any work done? I’ve reached the point where I can no longer be sober. This game has to get here immediately.

  11. Bright Idea

    Could it be Verne and Gary?

  12. Scott

    Over at Stingtalk, they are giddy with excitement over the rumors and questionable new reports today that GT is going to the “B1G.”. Longest thread I have seen over there in a long time. Apparently, it will expand GT’s recruiting footprint nationally.

    http://www.stingtalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=68839

    When you think about it, since the Big Ten is looking for crappy football teams located in major media markets, GT is right up their alley.

    • 81Dog

      Tech would be like the crappy building a real estate investor buys because the location is valuable. They’re no threat, talent wise, and it gives the Big Integer a footprint in a huge tv market with a lot of transplants. Plus, it might open up the Georgia high school recruiting market for them a little better. It wont make Tech any better, but it might make the BI some extra cash, which is all that counts in expansion, right?

  13. SemperFiDawg

    This probably has absolutely nothing to do with it, but my first thought was ” If I were a Vol, Razorback, or Auburn fan this year, I would have spent my Saturdays fishing too.” Surely the implosion of those teams played some role in viewership numbers.

  14. Buddy Arthur

    What about the Gary & Verne factor? It is getting harder and harder to suffer through a broadcast with them. Of course, I don’t mind forcing myself to do it one more time this season.