According to ESPN number busting, having USC (or UCLA) on its college football schedule isn’t so attractive … unless you really figure out what those numbers mean

UPDATED: Noon, 08.31.12:

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More background fodder to consider as ESPN, a vested TV partner with the Pac-12, goes week to week in announcing which college football games it welcomes for a prime-time showing, while there are others that really don’t attract the same number of eyeballs as you’d think:

An ESPN analysis release of the college football ratings it has generated over the last 12 years — from 2000 to 2011 — reveals that those in Birmingham, Ala., Oklahoma City and Columbus, Ohio are most likely to move the needle, while those in Los Angeles aren’t so much.

Meaning, USC may be No. 1 in the current AP poll, and won was in some national title games over the years, but the L.A. market’s 1.4 combined rating is only No. 43 in the 56 measured by this Neilsen-related number crunching exercise.

No. 1 Birmingham, Ala. (5.9 rating) is the home market for the University of Alabama. No. 2 Oklahoma City (4.3), as well as Tulsa (No. 7 with a 3.3 mark) are University of Oklahoma territory. Also at No. 2, Columbus (4.3) is home to The Ohio State University, which also gets a boost from the Dayton TV market (No. 11 at 2.8) and from Cleveland (No. 20 at 2.4).

How to read into this: Some teams reach multiple markets and can boast that their combined coverage is more than just a simple rating in one or two locations. Other teams, such as Arkansas, Nebraska, Boise State or Kansas State, does not play home games in a metered market.

And then there’s L.A., the No. 2 sized market in all of the country, next to New York, and that 1.4 rating (or percentage of all TVs in use) still represents far more viewers than something double that in any of the aformentioned cities.

Thus, the inherent flaw in these numbers:

Birmingham’s 5.9 rating translates to 43,000 households. Columbus’s 4.3 rating is almost equal to that — 40,000 households

Los Angeles’s 1.4 rating translates to 77,000 households.

Bingo.

The rest of the Top 25 on this list:
No. 4: Greenville, N.C. (4.1)
No. 5 (tie): New Orleans and Atlanta (3.4)
No. 7 (tie): Jacksonville and Tulsa (3.3)
No. 9: Las Vegas (3.2)
No. 10: Knoxville, Tenn. (3.0)
No. 11: Dayton, Ohio (2.8)
No. 12 (tie): Greensboro, N.C., Austin, Tex., Charlotte, N.C., and Fort Myers, Fla. (2.7).
No. 16 (tie): Pittsburgh, Nashville, Norfolk, Va., and Memphis (2.5)
No. 20: Cleveland (2.4)
No. 21: Orlando, Fla. (2.3)
No. 22 (tie): Raleigh-Durham, N.C., West Palm Beach, Fla., and Detroit (2.2)
No. 25 (tie): Cincinnati, Richmond, Va., Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., Portland, Ore., and Kansas City (2.0)

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