Rose Bowl between Penn State and Utah draws lowest attendance in game history

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Monday’s Rose Bowl game between Penn State and Utah drew a TV audience of 10.2 million viewers on ESPN, making it the least watched Rose Bowl in history.

The game, played on Jan. 2 of this year because Jan. 1 fell on Sunday, was down nearly 40% from last year’s Ohio-Utah State broadcast (16.6 million). The previous Rose Bowl low was 13.6 million for Stanford-Iowa in 2016.

The Rose Bowl was still the most-watched non-semifinal bowl of the season, surpassing the December 31 Sugar Bowl–Alabama–Kansas State Sugar Bowl (9.1 million) and the December 30 Tennessee–Clemson Orange Bowl (8. 7 million), both also on ESPN. . Tulane’s dramatic 46-45 comeback victory over USC in the Cotton Bowl, shown immediately before the Rose, drew just 4.2 million, the lowest of any New Year’s Six bowl since the current format began in 2014, and smaller than Gator, Cheez- Him and Alamo play, per ESPN.

However, thanks to the highest semi-final viewership numbers in five years – 22.4 million for the Georgia-Ohio State Peach Bowl and 21.7 million for the TCU-Michigan Fiesta Bowl – ESPN’s entire New Year’s Six package it averaged nearly 13 million viewers, its highest audience. watched lineup in three years.

The Rose Bowl, which originated in 1902, was for a long time the most watched bowl yearly before the start of the BCS and, later, the College Football Playoff. It regularly drew more than 20 million viewers throughout the 2000s and early 2010s – peaking at 35.6 million in the 2006 Texas-USC national championship game – but has gradually declined since it has not hosted a semi-final in years.

Last month, the Tournament of Roses reluctantly signed an agreement to allow the College Football Playoff to expand to 12 teams in 2024-25. Bowl officials sought assurance that the game would retain its exclusive TV window at 2 pm PT on New Year’s Day, when the CFP negotiates its next contract.

The Pasadena game will host a semifinal next season as part of the current CFP rotation, and is expected to host a quarterfinal within the first two years of the new system.

How view tracking has changed since 2020

It is important to note that the Rose Bowl audience, like all programming and especially live sports, prior to 2020 did not include out-of-home audiences, which are people watching in bars, restaurants, hotels, and parties at other homes. This can add thousands or even millions of spectators to the attendance measurements of major sporting events, meaning that older Rose Bowls had higher eyeball totals than official totals.

Although the game was a new ratings low, it was still No. 2 in cable TV’s top viewer demographic – the numbers brands want to see when paying for in-game TV advertising – following the broadcast of the Bills-Bengals “Monday Night Football” that was notable for the horrific injury suffered by a Bills player who ended up ending the game early. Like everything else on television, the Rose Bowl was also played amidst the ongoing cord-cutting trend that has diverted more than 30 million American households away from the cable ecosystem over the last five years, with new subscriptions to streaming services not filling the gap. Live sports remain the most resilient to the TV industry’s ongoing ratings problems, but they aren’t immune – although the viewership numbers for this game are surprisingly low.

Currently, ESPN pays $470 million a year to air the College Football Playoff Final, plus separate fees for the TV rights to the Rose, Orange, Cotton and Sugar bowls that bring the combined annual cost of the rights to over $100 million. 600 million. — Shea

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(Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today)

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