The USC/Penn State Rose Bowl scored a 9.4 overnight rating on ESPN Monday afternoon, up 19% from Stanford/Iowa last year (7.9) but down 16% from Michigan State/Stanford in 2014, the last Rose Bowl of the BCS era (11.2). The 2015 Rose Bowl was a playoff semifinal and had a 15.5 overnight. The last Rose Bowl to take place on January 2, Oregon/Wisconsin in 2012, had a 9.9.
The Trojans’ comeback, last-second win — which peaked at a 12.4 overnight from 9:15-9:30 PM ET — earned the second-lowest Rose Bowl overnight in at least 15 years and likely further back.
Though low historically, the 9.4 overnight was a high-water mark by New Year’s Six standards. It was the highest overnight for a non-playoff New Year’s Six bowl (12 telecasts dating back to 2014), topping the previous mark of 7.9 for last year’s Rose Bowl.
Later in the night, the Oklahoma/Auburn Sugar Bowl had a 6.1 overnight — up 15% from last year’s subterranean 5.3 for Mississippi/Oklahoma State but down 34% from Oklahoma/Alabama in 2014, the last Sugar Bowl of the BCS era (9.3). The 2015 Sugar Bowl was a playoff semifinal and had a 15.3 overnight.
The 6.1 is the second-lowest for the Sugar Bowl since the 1995-96 season, when Virginia Tech/Texas had a 5.5 on New Year’s Eve.
Rounding out the day’s action, the Wisconsin/Western Michigan Cotton Bowl plumbed the depths with a 3.2 overnight — down 40% from Michigan State/Baylor in 2015 (5.3) and even down 26% from Missouri/Oklahoma State on FOX in 2014, which aired directly opposite the Orange Bowl and was not part of a major bowl alliance (4.3). Last year’s Cotton Bowl was a playoff semifinal and had a 9.9 overnight. In the comparable timeslot last year, a higher-profile Ohio State/Notre Dame Fiesta Bowl had a 6.2.
The 3.2 is the lowest for the Cotton Bowl in at least a decade.
In all, the full New Year’s Six averaged a 7.8 overnight on ESPN this year — up 10% from last year (7.1) and down 5% from 2014-15 (8.2).
If you’re a major bowl game in the post-BCS era and you’re not hosting a national semi-finals game, your numbers are trending down and likely to stay that way.
Which means there’s only one solution to your dilemma…