FCS Kickoff scores in TV ratings

(STATS) - The FCS Kickoff was loved in Missoula, Fargo, and even Birmingham, Alabama.

TV ratings were considered strong for Montana's 38-35, last-second win over North Dakota State in the first game of college football last Saturday.

The ESPN broadcast averaged a 0.7 household rating and 981,000 viewers, according to ESPN, and was the fourth most-watched sporting event on cable television that day, according to sportstvratings.com. The game outperformed last year's inaugural FCS Kickoff matchup between Eastern Washington and Sam Houston State, which drew a 0.5 rating.

Interest extended beyond Missoula, Montana, where the game took place inside UM's Washington-Grizzly Stadium, and Fargo, North Dakota, home of four-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State.

Birmingham drew the top rating among major markets at 2.4. The top five were rounded out by Columbus, Ohio, with a 1.8 rating, Nashville (1.6), Atlanta (1.5) and Oklahoma City (1.5).

Montana won the exciting game on Joey Counts' 1-yard run with 2 seconds remaining. Quarterback Brady Gustafson threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns.

"It was a great result, it was a great atmosphere, it made for great TV, and great drama," said Montana athletic director Kent Haslam, whose athletic department also reported it enjoyed record numbers for digital media traffic surrounding the game.

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