Nice canary you’ve got there, ESPN. Shame if anything were to happen to it.

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.


Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

24 responses to “Nice canary you’ve got there, ESPN. Shame if anything were to happen to it.

  1. ugafidelis

    When everyone is special, no one is.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Uglydawg.

    Micky has egg on his face.
    (I wanted to throw a “ruffled feathers” comment out there but it was too much of a challenge this early)


  3. The playoff is killing the bowl games. Therefore, bracket creep is coming because Mickey has an empire to feed.

    Why else do you think over the last week or so the chorus is getting louder for 8?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Go Dawgs!

      Agreed. The bigger the playoff becomes, the less important a minor exhibition bowl game becomes. College football’s march towards a sport where only the national championship matters is to its detriment. I will genuinely rue the day that winning the SEC Championship becomes no more important than winning the NFC South.

      Liked by 2 people

    • stoopnagle

      This. When the big boys are mopey because they’re in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, then these minor bowls – however gratifying for MAC and Sun Belt teams – are DOA.


  4. bcdawg97

    Not that I’m the model, but I will say that UGA missing the playoffs has me less excited to watch football. Oh, I’ll jump back in when some of the more juicy bowl matchups come around, but I definitely wasn’t slogging through Middle Tennessee-Appalachian State or Georgia Southern-Eastern Michigan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Go Dawgs!

      It’s definitely made me less excited about the playoff than I was last year, but I wasn’t watching the Celebration Bowl or any of the other minor bowls at any greater rate because Georgia was playing in the Rose Bowl two weeks after. That said, I’ve been watching bowl games this year at about the same level as I always have this year. I’ve seen part of all of them except for maybe two.


      • Mark

        “…I’ve been watching bowl games this year at about the same level as I always have…”

        Me, too. Which is to day, not at all. I care little for games unless Georgia is in them or they have an impact on Georgia’s fortunes. I will watch tech if they are getting beat.

        This year, I have plans to watch only two games: Georgia’s, and the LSU/UCF game. The latter only because I want to see LSU beat the ever-loving shit out of UCF.


  5. Bob

    The humorous part is that guys like Herbstreit lament that the “other bowl” games are not getting respect. Yet their own station promotes to the two semifinals non stop during every half time show. There is no talk about the Sugar, Rose, Peach or Fiesta this year, much less the other “bigger” bowls.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Biggus Rickus

    I guess it depends on what their ratings would be like without the bowl. Regardless of the relatively weak numbers, it’s probably still more profitable to have that than some random basketball game or whatever.


  7. Hogbody Spradlin

    At what rating and viewer numbers do they start losing money?


  8. Bulldog Joe

    The Georgia Southern game was a good one.


  9. I honestly haven’t had the desire to watch football since, well, nevermind.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Russ

    CFB = dead man walking


  11. JCDawg83

    All the “actual game attendance doesn’t matter, the tv audience is all that counts” talk was foolish wishful thinking by the tv crowd. The actual fans that attend the game are something of a statistical sample of the level of interest the public in general has for a given game. College football is a very regional thing. As much as we love watching Georgia play, people in the Northeast and Mountain West really could not care less and people in the Midwest may have some passing interest as it relates to the playoff but they aren’t going to watch most of the time. College football is happily skipping down the trail forged by NASCAR and will likely find itself in the same position. Playoff expansion, with the same inane beauty pageant committee selection process, is the low hanging fruit but it will probably end up being the poison apple that kills the rest of the bowls and makes the regular season and conference championships completely meaningless.

    I hope Georgia can win a NC within the next 10 years, maybe sooner, because, after that, I don’t think college football is going to be too interesting to watch anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. W Cobb Dawg

    Wow, you’d think with the recent weather being so lousy and cold that ratings would actually be up. But I gotta admit that I still like the bowl games. It’s college football, after all.


  13. The Dawg abides

    It’s past time to split the power five from the group of five. Get rid of half the bowl games and let the G5 have a sixteen team playoff. Keeping them in the upper division just keeps up their delusion that they are playing big boy football. As soon as the restrictions are off of transfers, and have no doubt that’s coming soon, these programs are going to get picked apart like a rotting corpse. Think some programs are ruthless now about processing non-contributing players now? Just wait. If kids aren’t producing by year two, they will get kicked to the curb quickly. Vice versa for the G5. If an overlooked kid starts balling out early, he’s going in the portal. Georgia Southern is going to be one of our feeder schools.


    • Tony Barnfart

      This. And the big brands still do extremely well ratings wise. In 2017, 10 regular season games made the Top 50 in ratings among ALL non-NFL sports. There were ZERO regular season basketball games and quite a few regular season college football games topped 2nd weekend NCAA tournament basketball games.

      Part of the problem is in the analogy that we’re supposedly all married to the fact that G5 schools just don’t have the brand to remain competitive. Since nobody cares about them, the system must be broken. The canary is the absurdity that allows institutions to simply self-select their entry into the “highest level.” They’re gonna eventually try and button it up into anti-trust lawsuits and try and argue that folks in Florida would simply go against a century of their friends, family and selves supporting Dear Old State U like a fan migrating between different NFL teams or something.