ESPN bid farewell to a wild 2014 in the sports world with strong numbers for its NCAA football coverage on Wednesday. The Worldwide Leader went back-to-back-to-back with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Vizio Fiesta Bowl and Capital One Orange Bowl, averaging 7.2 million viewers and a 4.3 rating for the games. That marks respective gains of 53% and 54% over the 2013 tripleheader. Each game delivered a time-slot high for a New Year’s Eve game on any ESPN network.
The Orange Bowl, in which No. 12 Georgia Tech beat No. 7 Mississippi State 49-34 at 8:30 PM ET, averaged 8.9 million viewers and a 5.0 rating. The 4 PM Fiesta Bowl, which saw No. 20 Boise State upset No. 10 Arizona 38-30, scored 7.4 million viewers and a 4.6. And the Peach Bowl, featuring No. 6 TCU’s 41-3 beatdown of No. 9 Ole Miss, averaged 5 million and a 3.4 at 12:30 PM.
ESPN should expect even bigger numbers for today’s two semifinal games in the inaugural College Football Playoff tournament. No. 2 Oregon plays No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl, followed by the Sugar Bowl matchup between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Ohio State. The winners will square off on January 12 in the first CFP National Championship Game, also on ESPN.
The network’s gridiron gorging continues on Friday with four more bowl games back-to-back starting at noon ET.