Bowl season seen as a success despite some disruptions

South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer had mayo poured on his head after his team won the Duke's Mayo BowlGETTY IMAGES

This year’s bowl season was a reminder of why “much of it is still beloved” and why bowl games "aren't going anywhere,” according to Chris Vannini of THE ATHLETIC. From TV ratings to viral moments, the people involved see bowl season as a “rousing success.” Even with some games canceled due to COVID-19 issues and some star players opting out, Americans “like watching football,” and they did once again with a “relatively normal bowl slate." Bowl Season Exec Dir Nick Carparelli, whose organization serves as the consumer-facing arm of college football's postseason, said, “Overall, it was an extremely successful bowl season. Television ratings are up across the board, we had great matchups and great games, some upsets, and it seems college football fans really enjoyed it.” Navigate President Jeff Nelson said, “Bowls are still solid inventory pretty much across the board, especially for cable networks.” But some of the most memorable moments from this bowl season “had nothing to do” with those CFP or New Year’s Six games. Vannini noted it was the matchups of “lesser teams” in surprising games, like Purdue-Tennessee in the Music City Bowl, or the "various food objects poured on coaches” like in the Duke's Mayo Bowl. It might not impact TV ratings, but the earned media through social media “has become valuable” and "could entice new sponsors to get into bowl games" ( 1/8).

FUN BOWL SEASON: Carparelli said, “I feel for the five games that got canceled, but the 39 games that were played provided matchups that wouldn’t have been played otherwise (UCF vs. Florida), upsets and some great games. In fact, we had 18 games between teams that had never played each other before. Unfortunately, it is the school’s decision institutionally as to whether they feel like they can play. That obviously leads to a lot of interpretation as to what the motives of those teams actually are." He added, "Each year, my executive committee meets at the end of January to discuss the previous year. We have representatives from all 10 FBS conferences to help us create an agenda. I suspect this year’s agenda will be very healthy" (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/10).

TAKE NOTE: SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL's Abe Madkour writes Duke’s Mayonnaise was the “clear winner” among bowl game title sponsors. Madkour: “Kudos to the various groups that found a fun way to connect food and football.” While the game was treated with the “seriousness it deserved,” the stakeholders “developed a celebratory vibe.” Duke’s effort was about so much more than “impressions and a media buy.” It was about a brand having "strategic initiatives -- solidify its standing in the South and create national visibility -- while enhancing the event experience.” Madkour: “It was well done and other brands and bowls should take note of this effort" (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/10).

SBJ Spotlight: TikTok’s threat to traditional sports media

While tech companies are consumed with finding ways to compete with TikTok, almost no one in conventional media “spends any time talking about it,” said Recode senior correspondent Peter Kafka in an Spotlight interview with SBJ’s John Ourand. “To me, that’s just an obvious disconnect.” Kafka authored a recent column headlined, “It’s TikTok’s world. Can TV live in it?” He said the main response to TikTok’s growth from traditional media execs has been to “punt and hope it’s someone else’s problem a quarter from now or two years from now.” But Kafka said that ignores the trend of conventional broadcast audiences growing older while a billion younger consumers spend most of their media time watching short video after short video. “If you’re in the business of getting anyone under the age of 30 to look at what you’re putting on a screen, you have to think about the fact that you’re probably asking them to put down TikTok and watch your thing instead,” said Kafka. “That’s a very difficult ask. … [TikTok] is insanely addictive.”

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