With Bowl Ratings Up, ESPN Not Currently Interested In Nixing BCS

Monday, January 12, 2009


I was waiting until I had all of the numbers in to put up this post, but after a strong Bowl Season in terms of ratings, ESPN says they're not looking to make any changes. In fact, ESPN college sports chief Burke Magnus said that it would be "inappropriate" to tell College Football what to do. Via the Chicago Tribune....

But even now that ESPN has partnered with the BCS, winning the broadcast rights to every top bowl game from 2011-2014, network officials say they won't try to push college football toward a playoff.

"We will not be shy about giving our opinions, if asked," ESPN college sports chief Burke Magnus said. "But I don't think it's appropriate for us to tell them what to do, just like they don't tell us what to do."

The "us" was represented Thursday at a Football Writers Association of America breakfast by Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford, who said he sees no compelling reason to change any aspect of the current five-bowl BCS format, even though President-elect Barack Obama has called for a playoff.
Barack Obama's opinions aside, I think ESPN has a wonderful opportunity to do something for the fans of Football. An overwhelming percentage of people want a Playoffs system in College Football, and the "Leader" actually has the leverage to provide it to them. If you ask me, I think it's time to start telling people what to do. If you look at the ratings below, you'll see that while ESPN made steady gains, FOX's results were pretty bad this year. ESPN can still keep their collection of games, and then capitalize where FOX left off.

Seems pretty obvious to me, but then again....what do I know? Here the ratings for your perusal....

ESPN BOWL GAMES:

EagleBank Bowl

2008- 2.2
2007- No Game

New Mexico

2008- 2.6
2007- 2.0

magicJack St. Petersburg

2008- 1.3
2007- No Game

Pioneer Las Vegas

2008- 2.5
2007- 2.1

R+L Carriers New Orleans

2008- 0.8
2007- 1.6

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia

2008- 3.2
2007- 1.7

Sheraton Hawaii

2008- 2.6
2007- 1.5

Motor City

2008- 2.5
2007- 2.3

Meineke Car Care

2008- 3.9
2007- 3.2

Champs Sports

2008- 4.5
2007- 3.2

Emerald

2008- 4.0
2007- 3.1

Independence

2008- 1.0
2007- 1.6

Papajohns.com

2008- 2.4
2007- 1.9

Valero Alamo

2008- 4.6
2007- 2.3

Roady's Humanitarian

2008- 2.4
2007- 0.7

Pacific Life Holiday

2008- 4.6
2007- 3.7

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces

2008- 1.7
2007- 1.7

Gaylord Hotels Music City

2008- 2.8
2007- 3.4

Chick-fil-A

2008- 3.9
2007- 4.4

Outback

2008- 3.1
2007- 2.9

Capital One

2008- 6.4
2007- 9.9

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi

2008- 11.7
2007- 11.1

AutoZone Liberty

2008- 2.7
2007- 3.5

International

2008- 2.1
2007- 1.4

GMAC

2008- 2.2
2007- 1.0

BCS ON FOX:

FedEx Orange

2008- 5.4 (-27%)
2007- 7.4 (Sugar Bowl in same time slot)

Allstate Sugar

2008- 8.4 (+8%)
2007- 7.9

Tostitos Fiesta

2008- 10.4 (+35%)
2007- 7.7

12 Comments:

When you pay that kind of money, ESPN has more than enough reason to tell college football what to do (insert AA idiot commenters bitching about a playoff being needed).

GMoney said...
Jan 12, 2009, 11:27:00 AM  

I think a lot of it has to do with the teams involved as well. Nobody cares about Cincinnati and Virginia Tech but people want to see Utah upset Alabama and face it, whenever you have Texas playing Ohio State, people are going to watch.

That being said, there is something to be said for the increase in ratings for almost all of their bowl games. I think what happens next year will dictate if ESPN decides to push for a playoff or not.

JFein said...
Jan 12, 2009, 11:32:00 AM  

I think as long as the regular season ratings remain strong, there will be little incentive to change from the status quo. If the playoff system were implemented, I would bet with certainty that fewer people would tune in to watch a Okla-Tx Tech Saturday night game.

In fact, I would argue since Fox is losing the rights, there is actually LESS motivation to change. It would reason that only a party like Fox or another network who has minimal exposure to regular season games would they want to erode regular season ratings in favor of a back end payoff. But now ESPN/ABC would only be cannibalizing themselves, no?

Anonymous said...
Jan 12, 2009, 12:42:00 PM  

Let's be honest. The real issue here is work. Everyone on all sides is just being fucking lazy. Everyone makes too much money with too little effort with the current system.

http://tr.im/4zbm

Duncan said...
Jan 12, 2009, 12:44:00 PM  

JFein,
you're an idiot. GUARANTEE you predicted an Alabama blowout of Utah and didn't think the Utes even belonged in the game.
Hindsight is 20/20!
Of course, people like seeing it AS IT HAPPENED, but no one thought it was possible and would've nixed the game if possible.
i bet you predicted all the NFL home teams would win this past weekend too.

Anonymous said...
Jan 12, 2009, 2:00:00 PM  

@ Anon @ 2:00: I always love being judged based on one sentence...

And frankly, I did NOT think that Alabama was going to blowout Utah. I thought that Bama would win, yes, but I thought it would be a close game and not a blowout. I can't speak for the rest of America, but I am always very intrigued by the BCS bowl consisting of the unbeaten non-BCS team vs. the 1 or 2 loss BCS school. Besides the National Championship game, that's always the game I look most forward to watching.

And I absolutely thought Utah belonged in that game. Hell, I thought that unbeaten Boise State belonged against Texas instead of Ohio State. And judging based on how poorly Texas played for most of that game against The Overrated State University, there isn't a doubt in my mind that Boise would have hung in there right with them.

And no, I did not predict all NFL home teams would win this week. I had San Diego beating Pittsburgh. Don't believe me? Check out this blog post from January 9th.

http://fireandyreidnow.blogspot.com/2009/01/divisional-round-preview-san-diego.html

JFein said...
Jan 12, 2009, 2:43:00 PM  

Christ on a cracker!

If you want to criticize a AA regular, Anon 2:00PM, make it more thought out and at least put your name there or register to blogger.com... Utah belonged in the BCS, and earned it by beating seven bowl teams for crying out loud. The reason ratings were up was because of that Utah factor.

Two years ago, no one expected Boise State in the BCS either, but the beat Bob Stoops, who still cannot win a BCS Game for his life.

JamesCraven said...
Jan 12, 2009, 3:49:00 PM  

Unseeded plus-one. The bowls go back to traditional tie-ins, followed by a championship game after New Year's Day.

I've wanted that for a while and had never heard it from ESPN. Then on New Year's Day, Kirk Hebrstreit, Todd Blackledge and the studio (Rece, Fulmer, May & Holtz) all made pitches to put the games back the way they were with a plus-one.

It just seemed like too much of coincidence for them all to agree on something like that. Only Fowler expressed any sort of disagreement to that plan.

I'd say that's the plan in 2015 for a four- or five-year rotation. If that fails, THEN we'll see a playoff in 2020. Yep, 2020.

Sean O said...
Jan 12, 2009, 3:53:00 PM  

Regardless of the boost in ratings for most bowls, I still think half of them need to go. There are too many bowl games.

Samuel said...
Jan 12, 2009, 4:55:00 PM  

Under the current system, teams like Utah will never get a opportunity to win a national championship.

There's not a true national champion until any deserving team can possibly win it.

Anonymous said...
Jan 12, 2009, 6:24:00 PM  

The media's role is not, repeat NOT, in any way to advocate for any changes in what they cover. Would it be okay for Katie Couric or Brian Williams to pound their desk during the nightly news and say "WE MUST HAVE GAY MARRIAGE/PRAYER IN SCHOOLS/WHATEVER NOW!!!!"? Of course it wouldn't. ESPN covers the BCS. That means they can't use their heft to advocate one way or the other. Just imagine promos like "And on Thursday night, tune into the worthless non-playoff snoozefest between Pitt and Marshall! Only on the Deuce!"

It is always wrong when journalists (yes, ESPN counts) inject themselves into what they are covering.

Maynard said...
Jan 12, 2009, 8:51:00 PM  

Look at the bowls that saw big decreases when compared to previous years. Also, keep in mind demographics. More people will care about a bowl game that features Penn State, Ohio State, or Michigan because they are teams that are more heavily featured in the Northeast and Rust Belt where the largest concentration of people are. Programs like Florida, Miami and FSU drive in ratings because of their acceptability by the folks up North. Georgia is not considered a watchable program by the Northern viewer because they are a school that is not viewed as acceptable. Georgia vs. Michigan State's ratings suffered because of demographics. Nobody cares about any other team than Florida in the SEC in the money maker states (Northeast and Rust Belt). Then again most folks in the money maker states are casual fans and most likely did not attend the athletic powerhouses, hence these areas care more about pro sports. The BosNYWash area doesn't care about college football or college sports for that matter. It's always embarrassing that the Preseason NIT is always half-full or that any college game at the Garden has a poor attendance.

Anonymous said...
Jan 12, 2009, 11:43:00 PM  

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