I’ve long said that college football is now the second-most popular spectator sport in America, and the Nielson ratings for the March 30 premiere episode of the HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel special on college sports do little to discourage that notion.
The first showing of the HBO production drew a 1.1 national rating, highest of the season by a significant margin for the 16-year-old HBO Real Sports franchise.
With subscription-based HBO in 30 million homes in the United States, that means around 300,000 viewers watched a single showing of the cable outlet’s examination of the business and ethics of college sports - despite the fact that the same episode will air continuously on HBO for the next month.
Then there’s the Birmingham market.
With four ex-Auburn football players alleging on the same HBO Real Sports special that a systematic pay-for-play system exists at the school, it’s no surprise that the Birmingham market registered an astounding 5.4 rating. That’s an extraordinary number for any subscription-based show in a single market.
Not surprisingly, it also turns out that a portion of the audience for that first showing of the HBO Real Sports episode on the business and ethics of college sports was NCAA officials.
The BIRMINGHAM NEWS reports today that former Auburn football player Chaz Ramsey, who first claimed to HBO Real Sports correspondent Andrea Kremer that he sold Auburn football game tickets allotted to him by the school for thousands of dollars and received “money handshakes” from Auburn boosters after games, will be interviewed about those allegations against the school by NCAA investigators next week.Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates.