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ESPN Begins 2019 with Record-Setting Viewership for The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual and Allstate Sugar Bowl


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  • The Rose Bowl Game Delivers More than 16.7 Million Viewers; Sugar Bowl More than 13.2 Million Viewers, Both Resulting in New Year’s Six Records  
  • New Year’s Six Averages More than 13.6 Million Viewers, Set to Be the System’s Best for Non-New Year’s Day Semifinals Years

Happy New Year! ESPN began 2019 with record-setting audiences, as The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual featuring Washington vs. Ohio State (5 p.m.) and the Allstate Sugar Bowl between Texas and Georgia (8:45 p.m.) achieved their highest non-CFP Semifinal viewership in the College Football Playoff’s five-year history. On the heels of the New Year’s Day audiences, and combined with the College Football Playoff Semifinals and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on December 29, this season’s New Year’s Six is expected to be the most watched among the years with a similar calendar structure.

The Rose Bowl Game is Most-Watched Non-CFP Semifinal New Year’s Six Game
The Rose Bowl Game delivered a Nielsen reported audience of 16,781,000 viewers, up 7% from the 2017 Rose Bowl Game (1/1/2017) and up 24% from the 2016 edition (1/1/16) – both years of the New Year’s Six era the game was not a CFP Semifinal. Overall, the more than 16.7 million fans who watched the Buckeyes’ victory is the largest non-Semifinal New Year’s Six game, overtaking the previously mentioned 2017 Rose Bowl.

Sugar Bowl Up 40% from 2017 Game
The Sugar Bowl earned a Nielsen reported audience of 13,298,000 viewers, up 40% from the 2017 Sugar Bowl (1/1/2017) and a 49% increase from the 2016 game (1/1/16) – also the two years of the New Year’s Six era the game was not a CFP Semifinal.

Fiesta Bowl Begins Day with More than 8,471,000 Viewers
The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl featuring LSU vs. UCF (1 p.m.) earned 8,471,000 viewers, up 14% from the 2014 Fiesta Bowl (12/31/14), the only other time in the New Year’s Six era which the game hosted the automatic qualifier from the Group of Five. The viewership for the Tigers’ win was flat with last season’s Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, which was played in the similar New Year’s Day timeslot.

New Year’s Six Continues to Raise the Bar
This season’s New Year’s Six will be the most-watched among the years the CFP Semifinals were not played on New Year’s Day, once final Nielsen numbers are reported. Currently, the six games average 13.6 million viewers (ESPN and ESPN2), which is already up 15% from the second year of the CFP (2015-16) and flat with year three (2016-17). This season’s New Year’s Six non-Semifinal games averaged 11,615,000 viewers, the best ever in the five years of the system, including up 5% from the 2016-17 season.

Columbus With Best Rose Bowl Game Local Market Rating in Nearly a Decade; Birmingham Draws Big Numbers Throughout New Year’s Six
The home market for the winning teams in the Rose Bowl Game, Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl were also the highest-rated markets, with Columbus, Ohio, delivering the best of the day at a 42.7. The significant rating for Columbus was the best individual market for the Rose Bowl since 2010, except the two seasons in which the game was a CFP Semifinal. Birmingham was the best local market for the entire New Year’s Six. Full details were announced this morning.


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner