In a recent article from the venerable Wall Street Journal, Oregon was crowned the Nielson National Champion over its northwest brethren, Washington. Syracuse, due in part to its horrific bowl placements, finished dead last in the ratings index with a -21.1 ratings differential.
The WSJ describes its methodology as follows:
The full report may be found here.
Which college football teams draw the biggest national TV audiences? To find out, we checked the Nielsen ratings for 15 bowls over as many as 15 years.
For schools that showed up at least five times in our sample, we compared the rating for each game they played against the average for that particular bowl. (Games that determined the national champion, such as this year’s Rose Bowl, were given their own average.)
Rankings are based on ratings differential—the percentage by which TV viewership differed from the average in the bowl games they played.