Bowl you over

If you’re looking for an exhaustive listing of viewership, attendance and trivia about the just concluded bowl season, brothers and sisters, look no farther than here.

Here are some noteworthy points:

First, the money continues to roll in for the schools.

With more than 1.7 million combined fans attending a bowl game and close to another combined 129 million households tuning in to watch the games on television, bowl payouts ran an estimated $225 million in 2007-08 and have totaled $1.6 billion over the last nine seasons. Over the next ten years, bowls are projected to pay $2.4 billion to the teams and conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision who participate.

The regular season maintains its broadcast popularity.

Highlighted by its relationship with the SEC, CBS posted an average national household rating/share for the season of 3.5/8, up 13% from a 3.1/7 last year. The 2007 season marked CBS’ best year since a 3.7/10 rating/share in 1999. ESPN also posted impressive viewership with its third most-viewed season ever, averaging 2,013,687 households per game, and ESPN2 recorded its most-viewed season ever with 1,027,368 households per game. ESPN on ABC averaged 4,364,148 households per game with two games landing in the top 10 audiences ever: the Nov. 24 Missouri-Kansas game with 10,960,755 viewers (ranking 7th all-time) and the Dec. 1 Oklahoma-Missouri game with 10,841,849 (ranking 9th all-time). The Versus network saw a 50 percent increase in national household rankings and a 92 percent increase in total viewership.

Strangely enough, many of the minor bowls continue to prosper in terms of TV viewership.  Which, of course, means that ESPN is thrilled.

… Especially noteworthy, all of the pre-Christmas Bowl game ratings increased this year, and all the games continued to produce strong interest from the powerful demographic of 18-49 year-old males. For the bowl season, ESPN delivered an average of 2,866,410 households while ESPN2 delivered its most-viewed bowl season ever with 1,502,134 households and 1,950,490 viewers, posting an 11 percent increase with males 18-49 and a 17 percent increase with males 25-54.

Evidently not enough people got James Carville’s message about the Rose Bowl.  Viewership was up 2% from last year, as the Rose was watched by more people than any other bowl game except the BCS title game.

The least watched BCS game?  The Sugar Bowl.

You might also be interested to learn that the PapaJohns.com Bowl drew more Alabama viewers than did Saban’s inaugural ‘Bama bowl appearance at the Independence Bowl.  Maybe everyone in the Tide Nation was too busy making plans to attend spring practice to have time to watch.

Oh, and by the way, from that Birmingham News article, here’s something unearthed in a recent Nielsen survey:

In a telephone survey of 1,482 people by Nielsen, 73 percent indicated they planned to watch three or more bowl games, 20 percent said they would watch five to seven, and 14 percent said they would watch at least part of every game.

Forty-one percent indicated there are too many bowl games, and 51 percent said they believe college football needs a playoff system. [Emphasis added.]

Admittedly, if you’re George Bush, 51 percent is a mandate.  For the rest of us, it’s not quite so overwhelming.

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