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Volume 24 No. 160
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Friday Night Lights: ESPN's Orange Bowl Gets 7.2 Overnight, Fox' Cotton Bowl Down

ESPN drew a 7.2 overnight rating for Clemson's 40-35 win over Ohio State on Friday night, up 11% from the game's Florida State-Northern Illinois matchup last year, which aired on New Year's Day. This year's game, which was the last BCS bowl prior to the National Championship, had competition from Fox' Missouri-Oklahoma State AT&T Cotton Bowl on Friday night, which drew a 4.3 overnight. The last BCS game before last year's National Championship was the Oregon-Kansas State Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, which drew a 7.7 overnight on a Thursday night. Fox' 4.3 overnight for the Cotton Bowl was down from a 7.6 overnight for the Oklahoma-Texas A&M matchup last year. Meanwhile, ESPN drew a 1.1 overnight for the GoDaddy Bowl last night, which saw Arkansas State win over Ball State. That figure is down from a 1.2 overnight for the Arkansas State-Kent State game last year. ESPN also earned a 1.9 overnight for the Vanderbilt-Houston BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday from 1:00-4:45pm ET, down from a 2.0 overnight for Pitt-Ole Miss last year (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

SUGAR SUGAR: ESPN drew a 9.3 final rating and 16.3 million viewers for Thursday night's Allstate Sugar Bowl that saw Oklahoma beat Alabama 45-31, making it the most-viewed Sugar Bowl since the LSU-Oklahoma matchup in '04 that crowned the BCS National Champion and most-viewed Sugar Bowl that was not a BCS title game since Miami-Florida in '01. The rating and viewership for the Oklahoma-Alabama telecast were up 50% and 61%, respectively, from the Louisville-Florida matchup last year, which aired on a Wednesday night (ESPN).

GO BIG OR GO HOME:'s Richard Deitsch wrote ESPN's "mega-coverage" of tonight's FSU-Auburn BCS National Championship game "has huge potential to usher viewers into a new era for college football's biggest game." ESPN as part of a "BCS Megacast" will offer "different viewing options ... across six of its television platforms and audio and digital outlets." Network execs said that they have "contemplated such a concept for years and the programming department ... particularly expressed the desire to do something big for this year's BCS title game." The new elements "are interesting and give viewers an amplified viewing experience." Deitsch asked, "How much of a blueprint will Monday night be for how future college football playoff games are broadcast on the network?" ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer for College Football Ed Placey: "I'm hoping what this results in is an excitement level for it and also for us to take what we did well, what we learned from it, and that it turns into what we do on an annual basis for the national championship game. But that's still to be determined" (, 1/5). USA TODAY's Paul Myerberg noted ESPN's "BCS Megacast" will use 63 cameras, four of which will "be devoted to 'Title Talk.'" Two will be "aimed at the head coaches," and another two will be "set on each team's premier player," like FSU QB Jameis Winston and Auburn RB Tre Mason. A "similar visual approach will be taken on ESPN3," which will "use the home radio calls" from both schools along with two different camera angles (, 1/4).

CHANGE IS A GOOD THING: ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus said he thinks the first year of the College Football Playoff will be "markedly different than year 2 and 3 since the Rose and Sugar are anchored on Jan. 1." In Birmingham, Jon Solomon noted the Rose and Sugar Bowls host the CFP semifinals next year, but those games will be on Dec. 31 "in two out of every three years." Magnus said, "To have six games stacked over days and reaching back into New Year's Eve has a chance to redefine the country's perspective of what the New Year's holiday means to people and how people plan out their own personal lives over those two days. Our hope is the audience for two semifinal games approaches viewership levels we see now for the championship game, and the championship game we would hope would be substantially above that level." He added of the differences and similarities between selling the BCS to advertisers and sponsors compared to selling the CFP, "Our guys have been out for a while actively talking to the incumbent BCS sponsors. Personally, I think there won't be a ton of attrition there. I think the guys involved in it now like being involved in it. Seven games total as opposed to five allows for more sponsors to get involved. I think you'll see new players, but I think you'll see the core guys who support college football, not just in the BCS but in the regular season" (, 1/3).