There’s gold in them thar bowl games.

You wonder how there can be so many bowl games, when so many have issues with attendance?  ESPN is here to help you with that knotty problem.

Such games arguably make more financial sense for ESPN than traditional non-profit bowl organizations because the currency of the realm for ESPN is eyeballs on screens and not so much butts in stadium seats.

“The ESPN bowl games, which account for the growth in bowl games, are essentially made-for-TV events,” Stanford economist Roger Noll told USA TODAY Sports.

Consider that Miami Beach Bowl in which Tulsa beat Central Michigan last year, 55-10.  A crowd of 15,262 was bad news for a small non-profit that relies on ticket sales and corporate sponsorships to make ends meet.

But attendance doesn’t matter as much to a deep-pocketed media network. ESPN wants live television programming during the holiday season to draw viewers, sell advertising and beat the competition, reinforcing the channel’s value with cable distributors and satellite providers.

The game drew an average of 795,000 TV viewers, trouncing other channels that day, on a Monday afternoon. Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network both had less than 280,000 viewers on average during the same time period, according to Nielsen. For comparison, ESPN boasted earlier this year that its Wednesday Night Baseball viewership had increased to an average of 636,000 in April, up 11% from a year earlier.

“Think of how well it would rate in a different time slot,” Overby said of the Miami Beach Bowl

Even though it was the least watched bowl game of the season, it was still a ratings win for ESPN. Live sports games are especially coveted by advertisers because viewers are considered more likely to watch their commercials live, unlike non-sports content that often is recorded with a DVR to skip the ads.

Not to say that Mickey doesn’t have a potential knotty problem of its own with which to wrestle.  Playoff expansion is bound to hurt the bowls, so where does the WWL line up when the day comes that the CFP moves to eight… sixteen…?

54 Comments

Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness

54 responses to “There’s gold in them thar bowl games.

  1. Russ

    I’m just waiting for the new Bristol Dome to open with a beautiful Pro-Turf field and state of the art lighting….and seating for 2,000 friends and family (also known as the studio audience). The rest can just be green screened.

    Then all these cities won’t have to worry about their crappy bowl not drawing a crowd.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paul

      My thoughts exactly. Why involve a small non-profit? That’s just a bunch of people and stuff that has to be paid for and maintained. Think of the money saved on brightly colored blazers. You don’t need a destination when only the families are coming. Or, if you’re Disney/ESPN you can put this facility in place you already own and profit from, like, say, Disney World. Sweet.

      Like

    • Napoleon BonerFart

      They can break out the old Scooby Doo laugh track to accompany the game.

      Like

  2. ASEF

    Kind of a chicken egg dilemma. ESPN would have to make more money from playoffs than they would lose on marginalizing their inventory. And Tulsa, Central Michigan, Purdue, Kentucky, Oregon State, etc. aren’t going to be excited about seeing those opportunities shrink in return for an expanded playoff they will never see anyway.

    So someone would have to put a massive down payment/bet on a quaterfinals/round of 16 product whose semi-finals have been ratings disappointments by and large.

    Lots to solve in there, combined with people who are proven bad problem solvers.

    Like

    • Erskine

      Or ESPN throws there television rights weight behind a 12 team playoff, with the first weekend of games following championship Saturday , then allow those teams that loose in the playoff can qualify for a bowl. No reduction in bowl games & the traditional bowls are not affected. A win win situation for ESPN.

      Like

  3. DawgPhan

    I am pro bowl. More football on all day every day from this weekend till the end of the year. Everyone makes a bowl.

    There were bowl eligible teams that didnt get to go to a bowl game. We need more bowl games.

    Like

  4. Hillbilly Dawg

    I stopped at “currency of the realm”

    Like

  5. St. Johns Dawg

    ESPN also wins when usually-strong programs (Oregon, FSU, for example) have terrible seasons and fall down to lesser bowl games. The average fan is more likely to tune into the “Insert-Name-Here” Bowl if big programs are in them.

    Like

  6. CB

    “Playoff expansion is bound to hurt the bowls”

    ^^^ Good. I realized bowls were stupid back in 2002 when we beat FSU in the Sugar Bowl, but still were not champions of anything that mattered. I was 16 at the time.

    Like

    • We were SEC champions for the first time in 20 years … For those of us who lived through that drought, it mattered.

      Like

      • CB

        We were SEC Champions before we played in the meaningless exhibition game.

        Like

        • Gosh, I feel so stupid now for going and enjoying myself. 😉

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          • CB

            I enjoy myself at concerts, but I don’t go around hanging banners because I attended and acting like it was some sort of accomplishment. Don’t misunderstand me, I like going to bowls, I’m just tired of the idea that they mean something.

            McCaffrey and Fournette figured it out last year. I think it’s about time we all catch up.

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        • I guess I would say about any season that ends with a victory in New Orleans is a successful season. I would have loved to have had a better opponent in 2002 (and 2007). I didn’t see either game as meaningless because in both cases those wins secured top 3 rankings at the end of the season.

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          • CB

            Also meaningless IMO. Nobody remembers who was third outside of the fan base. You don’t hang a banner for third place.

            The only thing that could make that game worth anything tangible (forget nostalgia for a moment) is if it were the first round of a playoff.

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            • This is the living embodiment of the future attitude that Butts-Mehre will be fighting when we worry about the long term prospect of hard attendance and full season buy-ins. Everything is worthless unless it’s so big that mainstream know nothings in other regions chatter about us and the only thing that matters is the destination.

              If you want a preview of the way future fans will view certain regular season games once we have an expanded playoff, I present to you Exhibit A.

              Liked by 1 person

              • CB

                “This is the living embodiment of the future attitude that Butts-Mehre will be fighting when we worry about the long term prospect of hard attendance and full season buy-ins.”

                I say, I say, I say, buckle up sir. We’re under 40 and we don’t give a shit about the 1984 Cotton Bowl (or the 2017 Cotton Bowl). We’re also not going to shell out $5k annually for club seats to watch a noon kickoff with Louisiana Monroe (McG already heard that cry).

                Also, how the fuck did we settle on the name Butts-Mehre? Easily the most idiotically named athletic facility in the country. Might as well have called it Shit Stain. Mehre-Butts makes 1,000% more sense.

                #FireTheMusicTeamAndPlayMigos

                Like

                • PTC DAWG

                  Not responding.

                  Like

                • playmakers in space

                  I am in your demo, and I completely disagree with your position. A huge part of the allure and fun of college football has to do with the rankings, the bowl games, the inter-conference competition, etc.

                  I was proud of the team for a top 5 finish in 2012 as well as the top 2 finish in 2007. A Sugar Bowl victory is always a good time. Now when we get into the Belk or Music City Bowl tier, it’s really more about the experience and additional practice time (and extra football watchin’) than anything else, but the “if you ain’t first, yer last” mindset is a poor way to approach a season.

                  Like

                • DoubleDawg1318

                  I share your demographic and detest the attitude you’re embodying. If it’s national championship/playoff or bust for you then I’ll let you be miserable most years. Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy the hell out of kicking the East’s tail in the regular season (and getting an SEC championship to boot).

                  Like

                  • CB

                    I like filet, you like hamburger helper, and that’s okay. Idk why I have to be miserable when I eat hamburger helper, it’s pretty damn good for the most part, but don’t try to convince me it’s as good as steak.

                    It’s a dumb ass comparison. Obviously being in the playoff is better than any other bowl from Belk to Orange they all yield the same number of championships…ZERO. That’s not even really an opinion is it? That’s more of a fact. Detest my attitude if you want, I detest your archaic point of view. Wake the hell up, and stop drinking the kool aide that college football has been feeding us for decades. It’s senseless.

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                    • Macallanlover

                      I have no doubt you are in a great position to define “dumb ass” and “senseless”. Note no one is arguing with you, just feeling sorry for what you have, and will, miss.

                      In over 100 years of football, UGA now has 13 championships, a few shared, and many with only six conference games. Don’t think you can trivialize them because you have fallen for the Fool’s Gold on a “MNC or bust” mentality of those too limited in mind to understand conference titles are damned important and, now, earned on the field of play, not in a popularity contest with riles we will never understand. The SEC has been the best football conference in the US for over 40 years, and it isn’t really close, so don’t tell me winning it doesn’t mean something, you clearly don’t get it.

                      With 13 titles we are now tied for 2nd most, I look forward to claiming that second spot within the next two years. And yeah, I plan on celebrating that achievement. And it will mean more to me than those faux titles for teams that claim them while hiding behind a bowl structure so they didn’t have to face the top competition to earn them.

                      Like

                    • CB

                      We’re talking about bowl games not SEC Championships. You’re in left field bro. Go to sleep. Also, the SEC East is probably the weakest division in college football. Just FYI. I’m pumped about our conference title, but please don’t start with all the SEC chant bull shit. Idgaf ab any team but Georgia.

                      Like

                    • Macallanlover

                      No, your attitude is MNC or bust, exactly as everyone interpreted it. And downgrading the East is a pretty hollow response, we are SEC champs, not just Eastern title holders (save that response for when that banner is the most achieved. And you can do nothing about what your competition accomplishes, just win against what is in front of you…we did.) Waste your time pointing out how week the entire Big10 was for decades and make ohio and Michigan give back all those MNCs they claim, you would have a better case for meaningless titles, but they wouldn’t care about your opinion either, even though your case would be stronger.

                      Like

                    • CB

                      I recognize no champion before 2014. I welcome your hate.

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              • PTC DAWG

                Correct, and I think it’s sort of sad.

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            • Napoleon BonerFart

              If you’re not first, you’re last, eh? I hear ya.

              It’s still as smart as when Ricky Bobby’s daddy said it.

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            • Puffdawg

              Why are we forgetting nostalgia for a moment? That’s the whole point (for me at least). I’m also your demographic and could agree less with you.

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              • CB

                I don’t care how many individual examples of the 40 and under demo y’all give me. It doesn’t prove anything. You’re all in the minority which is why the old way is dying. Deal with it. Nostalgia is great, I’d personally get more nostalgia from a national title.

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                • Puffdawg

                  It sounds like you’re arguing getting into a watered down, expanded playoff field as a 16 seed is better (or more “meaningful” if you prefer) than playing in the Cotton Bowl because you are technically playing for a national championship, even though (a) you probably don’t deserve to be playing for a national championship given your resume and (b) you probably have a less than 1% chance of winning it all. But, MEANINGFUL PLAYOFFS! Whatever floats your boat I guess, but we will have to agree to disagree. Maybe you just REALLY don’t like Bourbon Street on New Years.

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                  • CB

                    “probably have a less than 1% chance of winning it all”

                    This isn’t the type of forum where you can win points by hedging on made up stats. Low seeds have won titles, we all know that.

                    I’m not really for a 16 team playoff, I wouldn’t want more than 6 tbh, but I’ll take 32 over the BCS picking 2 and asking me to get excited about the Sugar Bowl against West Virginia or whoever the hell.

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      • PTC DAWG

        Damn straight…that was a great bowl trip….3 for 1 BEERS all over the Quarter..

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    • sniffer

      I was there with my 16 year old daughter. Its one of her highlight memories. Mine, too.

      ps. I remember the FSU fans being apathetic about it all. They were coming off that incredible run of the 90’s and wanted no part of a meaningless Sugar Bowl after a 9-3 season. Us, otoh, barked all damn day and night…

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      • CB

        I had fun at the Capital One Bowl about 8 years ago, but that doesn’t make the game meaningful. Your example further proves my point, we beat FSU in a game they didn’t care about where they didn’t even have their starting qb. Can’t hang my hat on that.

        Like

        • sniffer

          The game wasn’t meaningful, beyond the Sugar Bowl trophy. What was meaningful was sharing the experience with fellow Dawgs. You diminish the bowl games of that era needlessly. Non of them mattered, except the BCS game to decide a mythical #1. BTW, you must be perpetually miserable as there is still no national champion in d-1 football. Just a winner of the CFP. Means nothing, really.

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          • CB

            Looks like somebody took a sport management class at community college. Good for you sniffs. I’m not saying you can’t have fun at a Bowl game, but I have more fun a regular season games especially when there is a playoff on the horizon.

            Like

  7. Greg

    I don’t think the playoff expansion matters much. There will always be a decent sized segment of viewers who will opt for live college football (no matter the teams) over the rest of the garbage that is shown on TV these days.

    Like

  8. sniffer

    There’s gold in more ways than reported. Article about Chubb being named 2nd team All American led me to think about the seniors that postponed the draft to come back. Tell me this isn’t gold:
    12-1 Senior Season, not completed
    East Division Champions
    SEC Conference Champions
    CFP Semi Finalists
    Rose Bowl Participants
    ? ? ?

    So, so happy for these kids. Their leadership and unselfish example will be felt for years.

    Makes me proud to be a Georgia Bulldog.

    Like

  9. Anybody get their tickets today?

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  10. TampaDawg

    Let’s just hope common sense prevails and it remains at four….but who am I kidding

    Like