New Year’s Day has always been a big day for college football. Although the BCS Championship Series moved the Sugar, Fiesta, and Cotton Bowls to other days, January 1 is still the go to day for America’s winter pastime This year there were five Major bowl games to choose from including the Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl, Outback Bowl, Capitol One Bowl, and the Gator Bowl. While five happy teams celebrated their victories at the end of a dream day for pigskin fans, it was ESPN and ABC that went home the biggest winners with excellent ratings results.
ESPN’s Orange Bowl broadcast was the top rated program of the evening for all of television or cable with 10.562 million total viewers, up an outstanding 47 percent from last year’s game (West Virginia vs. Clemson) that aired on Wednesday, January 4, 2012. This year fans watched Florida State demolish Northern Illinois 31-10.
The Rose Bowl, one of college football’s legendary games, was a minor disappointment for ESPN on an otherwise successful day, with a 3 percent decline in viewers from last year. A total of 17.024 million viewers watched Stanford squeak to victory over Wisconsin 20-14.
Another big winner for ESPN was the Outback Bowl, which attracted 7.6 million total viewers for a substantial 69 percent increase over last years viewership. In a close game, sports fans watched South Carolina defeat Michigan 33-28.
ABC also experienced a major increase in viewers. The Capital One Bowl, in which Georgia defeated Nebraska 45-31, attracted an audience of 10.954 million total viewers, up 35 percent from 2012′s game.
The Gator Bowl suffered from an unfavorable ESPN2 broadcast schedule and experienced a 24 percent decline in the television ratings. The game began at noon, which allowed the Capital One and Outback Bowls to siphon off a large share of the Gator Bowl’s audience by starting at 1:00 pm. For the record, the final score was Northwestern 34, Mississippi State 20.
Gator Bowl Association President, Rick Catlett, discussed the possibility of changing the Gator Bowl’s play date or network for next year’s game:
“We’ve been on the deuce for three years and I think we need to be one of the top two [ESPN] platforms. There might be the possibility of changing dates to get on ABC or ESPN.”
All in all, News Years Day was a big day for college football on television. ESPN’s Orange Bowl broadcast was the star of the evening schedule with 47 pecent more viewers than last year’s game. ABC was quite pleased with the results of the Capital One Bowl and a 35 percent increase in viewers. Football fans still have plenty of great games to look forward with the BCS (Bowl Championship Series), the NFL Playoffs, and the Super Bowl all in the days ahead. January is certainly a wonderful time of year for couch potatoes everywhere.