Fox 'thrilled' with numbers for title game


NEW YORK -- Fox Sports hailed Monday's ratings for the Bowl Championship Series title game, with 28.8 million people tuning in despite No. 2 Florida's 41-14 trouncing of top-ranked Ohio State.

This is the first year of big changes to the BCS, which Fox took over in a four-year deal from ABC, which still has the Rose Bowl. Monday night's game was the third-most-watched BCS game in its history, according to Nielsen Media Research data. While the game couldn't compare to last year's championship tilt -- Texas' triple-overtime defeat in the Rose Bowl -- color Fox Sports happy with the performance.

"The ratings were sensational and, for most of us, somewhat of a surprise in a game that was basically resolved at halftime," Fox Sports president Ed Goren said. "But I think that speaks to the kind of season college football has had. Week after week they've had significant ratings."

Of Fox's four BCS games during the past week, three led the network to nightly primetime wins. Only the Orange Bowl -- which featured a less-involving national matchup of Louisville and Wake Forest -- wasn't able to gain the lead in primetime. But Goren said Tuesday that the matchups go a long way to dictating ratings, something that Fox doesn't control. He said that there were concerns that the new five-game BCS would weaken the overall ratings for the series. They did, compared with last year, which featured a big Rose Bowl.

"Yet these ratings were right in line (with Fox Sports' internal projections)," Goren said. "In fact, the five games outrated the four games two years ago. Yes, you're going to get some matchups that are less than ideal, but you have to look at the overall picture."

That overall picture includes Fox Sports' sales team and its advertisers, which Goren said were happy with the ratings performance. Fox Sports will make money on the BCS, not only because of the download and DVD rights that are built into the package but also from TV revenue.

Fox Sports sold out the games early on in the sales process; 75% of its inventory is sold out for the next three years, Fox said.

"We're thrilled," Goren said.