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New Year's Six bowls see audience increase from '21

By Austin Karp

ESPN networks saw a year-over-year audience uptick for the New Year’s Six bowl games this season, boosted by a strong Rose Bowl audience that helped overcome a drop for the CFP semifinals. The combo of the Peach, Fiesta, Rose, Sugar, Cotton and Orange bowls averaged 12.7 million viewers across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU this season, up 16% from last season. However, this season is down slightly (-2%) from two seasons ago. Despite the CFP semifinals (Cotton and Orange) being down 11% from last season’s semis, a shootout between Ohio State and Utah in the Rose Bowl helped close the gap this year for the New Year’s Six. That game on ESPN/ESPN2 averaged 16.6 million viewers, peaking at 19.7 million in the game’s final 10 minutes. How important is that? That level of viewership essentially means the NY6 gets a third CFP-level number (which happens whenever the Rose Bowl isn’t a CFP semi). Two years ago, when the Rose was not a semifinal, Oregon-Wisconsin averaged 16.3 million.

BEST OF THE REST: On New Year’s Day this year, the Allstate Sugar Bowl (Ole Miss-Baylor) averaged 9.8 million viewers in primetime, while the Oklahoma State-Notre Dame shootout in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl averaged 8 million in afternoon window. On Dec. 30, Michigan State-Pitt in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl averaged 7.6 million. Last season, no non-CFP semi averaged over 9 million viewers, including a paltry 5.8 million for Oklahoma-Florida in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

NEW YEAR'S SIX AUDIENCE ON TREND ON ESPN NETWORKS
SEASON AVERAGE VIEWERS (000)
'21-22 12,700
'20-21 10,966
'19-20 12,929
'18-19 13,645
'17-18 14,651
'16-17 13,667
'15-16 11,871
'14-15 14,682
Download the
NY6 audience chart

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