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SPORTS WRAP College Football Bowls Over Audiences
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SPORTS WRAP College Football Bowls Over Audiences

There’s been no shortage of criticism surrounding the College Football postseason – even the President-elect threw in his two cents – but there’s no denying the bowl season still generates a huge amount of viewer interest.

There is no better bellwether than this year’s BCS National Championship between Oklahoma and Florida. Last night’s FedEx BCS National Championship received a 15.8 rating, up 16% from last year’s game.

In the metered markets, Oklahoma City had the highest local rating, with 51.7% of the Sooners’ home DMA tuning into the game. Five local Florida markets also made the top ten, led by Jacksonville with a 40.2 local rating.

Top 10 Local Markets HH Rating 1/8/09

BCS National Championship

Market HH Rating
Oklahoma City 51.7
Tulsa 46.9
Birmingham 41.6
Jacksonville 40.2
Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota) 32.3
Orlando-Daytona Bch-Melbrn 30.6
Austin 29.9
West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce 29.5
Ft. Myers-Naples 28.2
Source: 2009 The Nielsen Company

Viewership for the other four BCS bowls was also up compared to last year. The Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State and Texas was up 40%, the Sugar Bowl was up 14%, and viewership for the Rose Bowl increased 8%.

Outside the BCS, the positive trend continued with 17 of 27 bowls outperforming last year’s ratings.  Most notable were four bowl games airing on ESPN that boasted triple-digit increases in viewership:

  • The Humanitarian Bowl between Maryland and Nevada was seen by 3 million viewers, a whopping 218% increase over last year’s game.
  • The Hawaii Bowl was proof that Notre Dame still can still deliver a large audience (and a victory),  in front of 4.4 million viewers up 119% over last year’s game.
  • The Poinsettia Bowl on Dec.23  and the GMAC Bowl on Jan. 6 showed that there is demand for Bowls well before and after New Year’s, sporting 115% and 113% increases in viewers, respectively.

Below is a full recap of national viewers for this year’s bowl games.

2008-9 College Football Bowl Game National Viewers
BOWL NETWORK MATCHUP VIEWERS P2+ % Change YAGO
BCS TITLE FOX OKLAHOMA/FLORIDA 26,767,000 16%
ROSE ABC PENN STATE/USC 20,603,000 8%
FIESTA FOX TEXAS/OHIO STATE 17,056,000 40%
SUGAR FOX UTAH/ALABAMA 13,369,000 14%
CAPITAL ONE ABC GEORGIA/MICHIGAN STATE 10,839,000 -27%
ORANGE FOX VIRGINIA TECH/CINCINNATI 9,319,000 -22%
CHAMPS SPORTS ESPN WISCONSIN/FLORIDA STATE 7,059,000 51%
GATOR CBS NEBRASKA/CLEMSON 6,603,000 64%
EMERALD ESPN MIAMI (FL)/CALIFORNIA 6,508,000 40%
COTTON FOX MISSISSIPPI/TEXAS TECH 6,407,000 13%
HOLIDAY ESPN OKLAHOMA ST/OREGON 6,220,000 9%
ALAMO ESPN MISSOURI/NORTHWESTERN 6,076,000 59%
MEINEKE CAR CARE ESPN WEST VIRGINIA/NORTH CAROLINA 5,881,000 26%
CHICK-FIL-A ESPN LSU/GEORGIA TECH 5,635,000 -25%
POINSETTIA ESPN BOISE STATE/TCU 5,061,000 115%
HAWAII ESPN HAWAII/NOTRE DAME 4,413,000 119%
OUTBACK ESPN SOUTH CAROLINA/IOWA 4,093,000 -10%
MUSIC CITY ESPN BOSTON COLLEGE/VANDERBILT 3,646,000 -31%
LIBERTY ESPN KENTUCKY/EAST CAROLINA 3,607,000 -33%
SUN CBS OREGON ST/PITTSBURGH 3,475,000 9%
MOTOR CITY ESPN FLORIDA ATLANTIC/CENTRAL MICH 3,437,000 1%
NEW MEXICO ESPN COLORADO ST/FRESNO ST 3,432,000 46%
LAS VEGAS ESPN BYU/ARIZONA 3,389,000 0%
HUMANITARIAN ESPN MARYLAND/NEVADA 3,039,000 218%
EAGLEBANK ESPN WAKE FOREST/NAVY 2,875,000 NEW
GMAC ESPN BALL STATE/TULSA 2,831,000 113%
INTERNATIONAL ESPN2 BUFFALO/CONNECTICUT 2,670,000 36%
PAPAJOHNS.COM ESPN N.C. STATE/RUTGERS 2,372,000 -14%
ARMED FORCES ESPN HOUSTON/AIR FORCE 2,050,000 -21%
ST. PETERSBURG ESPN2 MEMPHIS/SOUTH FLORIDA 1,661,000 NEW
INDEPENDENCE ESPN NORTHERN ILLINOIS/LA TECH 1,207,000 -53%
NEW ORLEANS ESPN SOUTHERN MISS/TROY 1,115,000 -48%
INSIGHT NFLN KANSAS/MINNESOTA 731,000 5%
TEXAS NFLN WESTERN MICHIGAN/RICE 186,000 -64%
Source: 2009 The Nielsen Company

Covereage Area Estimates (% of US TV Homes): ESPN 86%, ESPN2 85%, NFLN 37%. Live + Same Day Viewing

NOTE: This table was updated on 1/9/09 at 5:10pm.