Ratings for the Rose Bowl Game featuring Oregon vs. Wisconsin on New Year’s Day were down four percent from last year. But the game was still the second most-watched non-semifinals game of the College Football Playoff era.
ESPN and ESPN2 aired the Rose Bowl, which had an audience of more than 16.3 million viewers. The game generated a multi-network audience of 16,304,000 viewers, making it the second most-watched non-semifinal New Year’s Six game in the College Football Playoff era of 24 games.
The audience for the Oregon Ducks’ victory surpasses the 2017 Rose Bowl between Penn State and USC (15,740,000 viewers) to earn the distinction. The Rose Bowl audience peaked at nearly 20 million viewers late in the fourth quarter.
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The Ducks-Wisconsin Badgers’ Rose Bowl audience is within 4% of last season’s Ohio State-Washington Rose Bowl Game audience, which was the most-watched non-semifinal New Year’s Six matchup. The Buckeyes-Huskies’ audience included full streaming data, while only partial streaming data for the Ducks-Badgers matchup is currently available. Full data for this season’s game will be available later next week.
Also ratings strong was the Sugar Bowl game between Georgia and Baylor on New Year’s Day. That matchup recorded an audience of 10,224,000 viewers, beating the 2017 Sugar Bowl (Oklahoma vs. Auburn) to become the second most-watched non-semifinal Sugar Bowl of the College Football Playoff era.
This season’s Rose Bowl audience was more than 20% higher than the 2016 Rose Bowl game (Stanford vs. Iowa) and the Sugar Bowl viewership was 14% higher than the 2016 Sugar Bowl (Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss).
In other bowl games. ABC aired its most-watched bowl game since the 2010 National Championship, as the Citrus Bowl between Michigan and Alabama on New Year’s Day generated an audience of 14,003,000 viewers. Among Citrus Bowls all-time, the audience for the Alabama win was the bowl’s fourth-highest audience dating back to at least the 1991 season and its best since the 2008 season (Florida vs. Michigan – 14,780,000 viewers).
With complete streaming data reported, the College Football Playoff Semifinals average jumps to 19.6 million viewers (from 19.3 million), officially the most-watched CFP Semifinals for the four seasons the games were played outside of New Year’s Day. Year-over-year, the CFP Semifinals are now up 8% (from 6%).
Accounting for 30 bowl games this year — inclusive of the entire New Year’s Six and all games through January 1 — ESPN’s networks are averaging 5,028,000 viewers per game – on par through a similar slate of games last season.
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