Friday, January 6, 2012

Retro TV Friday

It seems odd with the AT&T Cotton Bowl tonight that it's the only New Year's postseason game left that's on broadcast network television (Fox) when it stayed on network television when the major games all switched to pay television. But that leads to the bigger story of today's column.

To think about it, if it's an SEC matchup, then you'd expect to hear the Super Bowl XXI theme for a major game -- that's right, twenty-five years ago, at the Rose Bowl. CBS decided it would not be used for NFL coverage, but for college football (College Football Association) games at the time, and by 1995 it would be used for the network's Southeastern Conference coverage, a gamble considering CBS was by that time a minor network and wasn't available in suburban areas of some major markets (Detroit and Milwaukee most notably) because of their low-powered affiliates, and two SEC markets were in trouble, as in Georgia, CBS lost its affiliate to Fox and the former Fox affiliate chose to join the WB, so CBS came close to the weakest station in the market (channel 69) before independent channel 46 agreed to join CBS (ratings are still worse than the Spanish language station and independent stations in the area), and in South Carolina, the local CBS affiliate took a partial United Paramount affiliation, and was contemplating joining Paramount full-time if the NFL had not returned to CBS in 1998, leaving cable companies in their metropolitan area ready for backup from the Augusta, Florence (similar to NBC, which had no Florence/Myrtle Beach affiliate until 2008), Charlotte, or Charleston affiliates had WLTX bolted to Paramount full-time in order to boost the Star Trek franchise (which was the main reason they took a partial Paramount affilation). The CBS/SEC gamble worked, as by 2001 the CBS/SEC deal became one where the CBS game would become the only guaranteed national Game of the Week, which has the ESPN-affiliated conferences crying foul, since their games are regional while the SEC's game was national.

I do think the first Louisiana State-Alabama game, however, will have drawn more viewers than the rematch for the BCS title, because of the CBS/SEC tie-in instead of ESPN.

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