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College Football Playoff Crowns New Top Dawg

Total of 20.92 Million Tune In to Watch UGA, Alabama

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Broadcast
NCAA
Social Media
Sponsorship Valuation
Published 
January 27, 2022
 | 
5
 min read

A regional rematch both four years and five weeks in the making – depending on one’s perspective – played out under the bright lights of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis earlier this month. Southeastern Conference rivals Alabama and Georgia had met in multiple title games over the past several years, including the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship and the 2021 SEC Championship this past December, with the Crimson Tide emerging victorious each time. But after each school won its CFP semifinal matchup on New Year’s Eve, they found themselves in familiar company once again. Those previous games coupled with Alabama’s dominance of late were added motivation for Georgia, which spent most of the season atop the rankings. An abundance of fans who either wanted to see the Tide continue its recent reign or watch UGA unseat the defending champion tuned in to ESPN’s MegaCast, as a total of 20.92 million households viewed college football’s premier event across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, and the SEC Network. We used our MVP broadcast platform to monitor minute-to-minute national and local viewership trends to determine when and where fans were most interested as well as sponsorship valuation for each of the CFP’s partners.

ESPN Enjoys Steady Title Game Viewership

Game coverage for the CFP National Championship began at 8 p.m. EST on January 10, with 7.97 million households tuned in for the opening. ESPN and its family of networks broadcast the spectacle across five TV channels, with a different approach to each. The main telecast was shown on ESPN, while ESPN2 aired the game with commentary from Texas A&M’s coaching staff, ESPNU showed a multi-angle presentation, ESPNews used a SkyCast, and SEC Network synced the teams’ local radio stations with the championship’s video feed. Of the 20.92 million households that watched at least a portion of the game across any of the five networks, 89% watched the main telecast on ESPN. Overall, the game drew relatively steady viewership, peaking at 12.25 million households just before halftime. But, as the game's outcome hung in the balance, the fourth quarter maintained viewers' interest at a much greater level than did the opening period. The championship’s final hour averaged 10% more viewers than its first, and there was an even bigger discrepancy between the game’s first and last half-hour. The closing 30 minutes of the telecast averaged 11.63 million households, an 18% increase from the window spanning 8-8:30 p.m.

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Local Lens Magnifies Viewership in South

Nationally, the largest markets dominated viewership totals for the CFP Championship. New York led the way with 819,234 households tuning in, followed by Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Houston, respectively. But leading off the bottom half of the top 10 was Atlanta, with 601,896 households watching to see if the Bulldogs could win their first championship in more than four decades. With both national finalists based in the same region, the Southeast was responsible for a significant share of household viewers throughout the game. Alabama’s designated market areas – Birmingham, Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery – combined for 955,231 viewers during the contest. Meanwhile, Georgia’s local markets – which comprise Albany, Atlanta, Augusta, Macon, and Savannah – totaled 1.02 million viewers. The two states collectively accounted for 9.4% of the nation’s viewers, demonstrating a strong affinity for their local universities.

CFP Partners Ever-Present During Broadcast

The CFP Championship is a marketing boon for each of the event’s sponsors, as branding is ever-present on the screen during touchdowns, turnovers, and even downtime. As viewers intently watched game action, they undoubtedly noticed some or all of the CFP’s 13 official sponsors – Allstate, AT&T, Capital One, Cheez-It, Chick-fil-a, Dr. Pepper, Gatorade, Goodyear, Mercedes-Benz, Modelo, Playstation, Ram, and Taco Bell. The most prevalent of these companies during the title game was AT&T, which boasted more than one hour and 16 minutes of total exposure. As a result, the telecommunications company received 44.2% of the $23.25M worth of brand value generated during the broadcast. AT&T earned $6.07M – 59% of its total – from graphics integrations. Ram’s branding was on screen for 16 minutes and 16 seconds, followed by Allstate at exactly 12 minutes and Gatorade at 11 minutes and 11 seconds. These four companies along with Goodyear, Dr. Pepper, and Capital One all surpassed $1M in broadcast value during the championship game.

UGA Reaches New Social Apex

The game’s climax happened with less than a minute remaining as UGA’s Kelee Ringo crossed the goal line to score a touchdown following a 79-yard interception return. After the ensuing extra point, Georgia had a 33-18 lead that would ultimately be the final. Despite being on the losing end, Alabama’s Instagram post relaying the score earned 101,086 engagements, 3.67 million impressions, and more than $82K worth of post value. However, Georgia’s top content bested each of those figures. A video of UGA Head Coach Kirby Smart reacting to Ringo’s game-sealing interception – captioned “THE LITERAL MOMENT” – received 149K engagements and 5.22 million impressions. The $116.5K worth of post value it generated was the most received across UGA football’s social accounts since at least January 2018, according to MVP’s database.

SEC Foes Show It Just Means More

Although Georgia dethroned Alabama as national champions this year, the rivals have cemented their places atop the pantheon of college football powers thanks to sustained success since the dawn of the CFP era. National interest was evident throughout ESPN’s five live broadcasts, spelling success for official sponsors appealing to fans throughout the country. But the enthusiastic interest in local markets and across team social accounts lend credence to the SEC’s mantra about it just meaning more.

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