Bowl Game Audiences Grow 8% on ESPN and ESPN2

During the 2008-09 bowl season, ESPN and ESPN2 combined to televise 23 college football bowl games and averaged 2,810,000 homes (a 2.5 U.S. rating), an increase of 8% over last season. In 2007-08, the two networks averaged 2,596,000 homes for 21 bowl games (a 2.3 U.S. rating).

Highlights (all ratings are coverage area, ESPN or ESPN2 universe):

On Saturday Dec. 27, the Champs Sports Bowl delivered ESPN’s second-largest bowl audience ever. Florida State’s 42-13 victory over Wisconsin attracted an average 5,098,000 homes and earned a 5.2 rating. (ESPN’s most-watched bowl game ever was the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30, 2006, between Iowa and Texas. It was watched by an average of 5,521,000 homes, a 6.0 rating.)

On Dec. 27, ESPN was tops among all TV networks (broadcast or cable), averaging 4,535,000 homes, with the Emerald Bowl, in which California defeated Miami 24-17. Garnering a 4.6 rating, the network also was first in viewers; persons 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54; and men 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54).

On two other nights, ESPN led all networks in male viewers 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54. On Dec. 29, the Valero Alamo Bowl earned a 4.6 rating for Missouri’s 30-23 overtime victory over Northwestern. On Dec. 30, ESPN televised the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, earning a 4.6 rating with Oregon’s 42-31 win over Oklahoma State.

Overall, ESPN’s 21 games averaged 2,920,000 homes, up 2% from 2,866,000 for 17 contests a year ago (both years earning a 3.0 rating). ESPN2 averaged 1,663,000 homes (a 1.7 rating) for two games, up 11% from the 1,502,000 for game bowl games last season (1.6 rating).

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