Minor bowl games. Mickey doesn’t care if anyone actually shows up in person to sit through them; he just wants people watching.
So this probably isn’t good news.
The college football bowl season got off to a slow start in the ratings.
The Fresno State-Arizona State Las Vegas Bowl earned a 2.25 rating and 3.33 million viewers on ABC Saturday afternoon, down 3% in rating and 12% in viewership from last year (Boise State-Oregon: 2.3, 3.80M) and down 5% and 11% respectively from 2016 (SDSU-Houston: 2.4, 3.74M).
The Bulldogs’ win was the least-watched Las Vegas Bowl in four years (2014 Utah-Colorado State: 1.4, 2.12M).
Earlier in the day, the North Carolina A&T-Alcorn State FCS Celebration Bowl had a 1.6 (flat) and 2.35 million (-1%). It was the least-watched edition of the game since it debuted in 2014.
Shifting to cable, the Middle Tennessee-Appalachian State New Orleans Bowl had a 0.8 and 1.37 million on ESPN — down a tick in ratings but up 3% in viewership from both last year (Troy-North Texas: 0.9, 1.33M) and 2016 (Southern Miss-Louisiana Lafayette: 0.9, 1.34M). It was the lowest rated New Orleans Bowl in nine years (2009: 0.7) and the most-watched in three (2015: 1.42M).
The Georgia Southern-Eastern Michigan Camellia Bowl had a 0.6 (-14%) and 986,000 (-17%), marking the lowest rated and least-watched edition of the five-year old game.
Finally, the Utah State-North Texas New Mexico Bowl drew a 0.7 (-9%) and 968,000 (-20%), marking the lowest rated edition of that game since at least 2008 and the least-watched since at least 2005.
There’s a lot of “lowest rated” and “least-watched” in there. Have we finally reached a saturation point with bowl games? Is all the playoff expansion talk having an effect on whether folks care as much about bowls? Hard to say this early on, but if either is true, it would qualify as a self-inflicted wound by the WWL.
At risk of mixing avian metaphors, there’s a definite irony to the possibility that ESPN is killing its golden goose. Sad, too. Between the network and college football executives, we may need to concede that there simply isn’t a single smart person in the room. That doesn’t bode well for the sport we love.