Press Release

Posted by Michael Humes on January 10, 2013

Viewership Increases for ESPN Bowl Games

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Discover BCS National Championship Photo Gallery

BCS National Championship Second Most-Viewed Cable Program Ever, Chick-fil-A Bowl Most-Viewed Non-BCS Bowl on ESPN Ever
Birmingham Tops All Markets

ESPN’s extensive coverage of the 2012-13 college football season – 314 exclusive regular-season games and 33 bowl game telecasts – concluded with multiple viewership highlights, including:

  • The second most-viewed program in cable television history
  • ESPN’s most-viewed and fourth most-viewed non-BCS bowl games ever
  • Viewership increases for this season’s BCS bowls and non-BCS bowls over last year
  • Birmingham averaging a 10.3 metered market rating for the 29 ESPN bowl game telecasts

Bowl Championship Series
ESPN averaged 15,131,000 viewers and a 10.1 household coverage rating (8.8 US rating) for its five BCS bowl game telecasts, a viewership and ratings increase of 7 percent (vs. 14,080,000) and 4 percent (9.8 coverage rating), respectively, over last season.

The BCS schedule was highlighted by the second most-viewed and second highest-rated program (US rating) in cable television history for the season-ending Discover BCS National Championship. The matchup – a 42-14 Alabama win over Notre Dame – averaged 26,380,000 viewers and a 15.1 US rating (17.5 coverage rating).

Most-Viewed Non-BCS Bowl & Post-Season Increase
The 2012-13 season also included two of ESPN’s top four most-viewed non-BCS bowl game telecasts ever with the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Outback Bowl. The Chick-fil-A Bowl New Year’s Eve telecast – a 25-24 Clemson victory over LSU – averaged 8,557,000 viewers (a 5.6 household coverage rating), making it the network’s most-viewed non-BCS bowl ever. The Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day – South Carolina beating Michigan 33-28 – is ESPN’s fourth most-viewed non-BCS bowl ever with an average of 7,583,000 viewers (a 4.9 household coverage rating).

This season also garnered ESPN’s 14th most-viewed non-BCS bowl game telecast with the Valero Alamo Bowl. The December 29 matchup of Texas beating Oregon State 31-27 averaged 6,757,000 viewers (a 4.8 coverage rating).

Overall, the 28 non-BCS bowl telecasts on ESPN, ABC, ESPN2 and ESPNU averaged 3,661,000 viewers and a 2.3 US rating – an increase of five percent for both (vs. 3,483,000 and 2.2) over last season.

Birmingham No. 1 in the Top 25 Metered Markets
Birmingham, the highest-rated metered market for ESPN’s regular-season telecasts for 12 straight years, was the highest-rated market for ESPN’s 28 non-BCS bowl telecasts, averaging a 10.3 rating. All 25 of the top markets averaged a 4.0 rating or better with Greenville, Austin, New Orleans and Knoxville posting a 6.0 or higher rating.

Three markets that were not among the top 25 highest-rated markets at the conclusion of the regular season made it to the top 25 for bowl telecasts: Kansas City (13th bowl vs. 26th regular season), Detroit (tied 14th bowl vs. tied 27th regular season) and Phoenix (tied 22nd bowl vs. tied 27th regular season). Meanwhile, three of the highest-rated markets at the conclusion of the regular season did not make the top 25 for bowl games: Norfolk (tied for 17th), West Palm Beach (tied 22nd) and Cleveland (tied 22nd).

The top 25 markets for ESPN’s bowl and regular-season telecasts for the 2012-13 season:

Bowl RankMarketBowl RatingSeason RankMarketSeason Rating
No. 1Birmingham10.3No. 1Birmingham8.9
No. 2Greenville6.7No. 2Greenville4.7
No. 3Austin6.2No. 3Knoxville4.6
New Orleans6.2No. 4New Orleans3.7
No. 5Knoxville6.0No. 5Jacksonville3.6
No. 6Oklahoma City5.9Columbus3.6
Columbus5.9No. 7Atlanta3.5
No. 8Tulsa5.5No. 8Oklahoma City3.4
No. 9Nashville5.4No. 9Nashville3.3
No. 10Portland5.1No. 10Memphis3.1
Jacksonville5.1Austin3.1
No. 12Dayton4.9No. 12Tulsa2.5
No. 13Kansas City4.6Charlotte2.5
No. 14Memphis4.5Las Vegas2.5
Richmond4.5No. 15Portland2.3
Detroit4.5Richmond2.3
Atlanta4.5No. 17Orlando2.2
No. 18Orlando4.4Dayton2.2
Las Vegas4.4Norfolk2.2
No. 20Tampa-St. Petersburg4.1No. 20Louisville2.1
Charlotte4.1Tampa-St. Petersburg2.1
No. 22Louisville4.0No. 22West Palm Beach2.0
Phoenix4.0Greensboro2.0
Ft. Myers4.0Cleveland2.0
Greensboro4.0Ft. Myers2.0

Regular Season: Most-Viewed Series & Extensive Schedule Reaches Millions
ESPN’s Saturday Night Football Presented by Windows 8 on ABC was the highest-rated and most-viewed college football series among all networks carrying the sport this season with an average of 6,518,000 viewers and a 4.0 rating. The Saturday Night Football broadcast of Notre Dame defeating USC 22-13 on November 24 was ABC’s second most-viewed and second highest-rated regular-season game since 1991, averaging 16,059,000 viewers and a 9.4 rating.

For the season, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 covered 314 regular-season Football Bowl Subdivision games exclusively – 203 more than every other national network combined (CBS, FOX, NBC, FX, NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network).

Overall, ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 combined to reach more than 187,000,000 viewers via game telecasts. Combining ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 with ESPNU’s extensive lineup and the networks averaged 2,018,000 viewers for 224 regular-season games. ESPN offered games across every day of the week with select Tuesday and Wednesday matchups and a regular schedule of Thursday, Friday and Saturday telecasts.

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Contact: Mike Humes at 860-766-2233 or michael.c.humes@espn.com