Football Bowl Association executive director Wright Waters said that because, as you can probably guess, overall bowl attendance is down for the fifth straight year. And Waters thinks that really shouldn’t matter too much in the vast scheme of things.
“I’m not saying it’s not important. But some of our bowl games exist purely for the experience, and I think that’s where we probably need to focus as much as anything.
“I don’t think you can have a discussion about the health of bowls and limit it to attendance and payouts and ratings. If the attendance is down 4 percent and that’s the same as the regular season, I think it just speaks to the larger issue that we’ve got to get our arms around as an industry.”
He’s right, but not for any of those reasons. He’s right because of this:
Even though ticket demand remained relatively low for many bowls, millions of viewers keep watching them. ESPN’s New Year’s Eve audience averaged 7.1 million viewers, up from 4.6 million the date in 2013 with far less-attractive games.
Even ESPN has some tinkering around the edges to do, though.
However, the Fiesta’s audience of 7.4 million was its lowest in Nielsen records and the Orange’s 8.9 million viewership was one of its lowest on record. The Peach dropped 43 percent by moving from primetime to an afternoon kickoff on Dec. 31.
So much for that Boise State national audience. Or Georgia Tech’s, for that matter.
This is just so much wishful thinking on Waters’ part.
This postseason marked the first time many conferences had more control over bowl matchups. Ticket allotments that schools are required to purchase from bowls were significantly reduced in new contracts.
“I think we got into a situation where the bowls were largely dependent on the teams for ticket sales,” Waters said. “I think you’ve got to see bowls getting back in the business of selling the two conferences in their game and go back to the old way of really marketing it locally.”
Good luck with that, fellas. The conferences and Mickey ain’t going for that anymore.