SBD/January 5, 2011/Media

ESPN Earns 8.4 Overnight For Ohio State-Arkansas Sugar Bowl

ESPN's Sugar Bowl Overnight has mixed results with comparable bowl games last year

ESPN earned an 8.4 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's Ohio State-Arkansas Allstate Sugar Bowl, which is up 16.7% from a 7.2 overnight for the comparable Iowa-Georgia Tech Orange Bowl on Fox in '10. The increase marks ESPN first BCS window-to-window ratings gain thus far when compared to last year's games. Last night's telecast is down 3.4% from an 8.7 overnight for the Florida-Cincinnati Sugar Bowl last year on Fox, which aired in primetime on New Year's Day. Ohio State-Arkansas ranks as ESPN's second-best college football overnight after Saturday's TCU-Wisconsin Rose Bowl. Last night's game also earned 248,000 viewers on ESPN3.com, marking the channel's best college football audience ever. The game earned a 46.2 local rating in Columbus, which topped all U.S. metered markets, and is the market's best rating ever for a college football game on ESPN (records date back to '00). The 46.2 local rating is also the highest rating for any market during the current bowl season. There is no metered market in the state of Arkansas (THE DAILY).

AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT: ESPN earned a 6.7 U.S. rating and 10.682 million viewers for Monday night's Stanford-Virginia Tech Discover Orange Bowl, which is down 18.3% and 22.7%, respectively, from an 8.2 rating and 13.819 million viewers for the comparable Boise State-TCU Tostitos Fiesta Bowl last year on Fox. Stanford-Virginia Tech is also down 1.5% and 1.8%, respectively, from a 6.8 rating and 10.879 million viewers for the '10 Orange Bowl, which aired on Fox on a Tuesday night (THE DAILY).

ORANGE BOWL RATINGS, VIEWERSHIP TREND
YEAR
MATCHUP
NET
DAY
RAT.
VIEWERS
(000)
'11
Stanford-Virginia Tech
ESPN
Mon.
6.7
10,682
'10
Iowa-Georgia Tech
Fox
Tues.
6.8
10,879
'09
Virginia Tech-Cincinnati
Fox
Thurs.
5.4
9,319
'08
Kansas-Virginia Tech
Fox
Thurs.
7.4
11,958
'07
Louisville-Wake Forest
Fox
Tues.
7.0
10,655
 
 
 
 
 
 

NOT SO DOWN: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes in addition to the teams' appeal, matchups and Oklahoma's blowout win over Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl, the "move to cable was a major factor" in the ratings declines for the Rose and Fiesta bowls. Still, ESPN was "jubilant about its Rose and Fiesta debuts because it does not have to beat broadcast numbers to succeed." ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus prior to Monday's Orange Bowl said, "We're pleased with these numbers, and with three more BCS games to play we'll stack up well and the broadcast-to-cable comparisons will not matter. There's no broadcast-to-cable case to be made." But Sandomir writes "there is," and it is "at the heart of the battle between broadcasters and cable networks." Horizon Media Senior VP/Research Brad Adgate noted that the "gap in viewership between broadcast and cable is narrowing." Adgate: "ESPN is leading the trend." Magnus said that it is "possible to play in ESPN's universe and still have more viewers for a bowl game than one on broadcast TV." Sandomir writes, "Sure it is, especially if the cable event has a better matchup or a tighter game or higher-ranked teams -- and the comparison is to one of the least-viewed past bowls. Of course, it can also be serendipity" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/5).

CHECKING THEIR WATCHES: SLATE.com's Andrew Bouve noted ESPN's broadcast crew of Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden were overheard discussing the length of Monday's Orange Bowl at the end of the ESPN3.com broadcast of the game. Gruden said, "Go ahead, Jaws, have another lozenge," to which Jaworski, in a "celebratory" tone, said, "God dang, I made it!" Gruden then said, "My god, these are the longest games ever." Jaworski: "Holy cow." Tirico added, "Wait 'til Monday," in reference to the Auburn-Oregon Tostitos BCS National Championship Game (SLATE.com, 1/4).

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