BCS: Orange Bowl Lowest Rated Since 1993; Worst BCS Rating Ever

Posted by | January 9, 2012 at 3:01 PM

The Orange Bowl earned one of the lowest ratings in recent memory for a marquee sporting event.

The 2012 Orange Bowl, won by #23 West Virginia over #15 Clemson in a 37-point blowout, drew a 4.5 U.S. rating and 7.174 million viewers on ESPN Wednesday night — down 33% in ratings and viewership from last year (STAN/VT: 6.7, 10.682M), and down 34% in both measures compared to 2010 (IOWA/GT: 6.8, 10.879M, FOX).

The game ranks the lowest rated Orange Bowl since the 1992-93 season (FSU/NEB: 4.0, NBC), and easily the lowest rated and least-viewed Bowl Championship Series telecast in history. The previous lows for a BCS game were a 5.4 and 9.319 million for the 2009 Virginia Tech/Cincinnati Orange Bowl on FOX.

Of the five lowest rated BCS bowls — 2012 Orange (4.5), 2009 Orange (5.4), 2012 Sugar (6.1), 2011 Fiesta (6.2) and 2011 Orange (6.7) — four have aired on ESPN, and three have been Orange Bowls.

In seven of the first eight years of the BCS (all on ABC), the Orange Bowl earned at least 9% of U.S. TV homes each year. In the past six seasons (on FOX and ESPN), the game has failed to attract even 7.5% of TV homes.

For some perspective, this year’s Orange Bowl ranks below the lowest rated and least-viewed games of the NBA Finals (2003, NJ/SA G2: 5.2, 8.058M, ABC) and World Series (2008, TB/PHI: 6.1, 9.836M, FOX). Complete historical ratings were not available for the Final Four, but the lowest rated and least-viewed game of the past decade — Kansas/Marquette in 2003 — earned a 6.3 and 9.897 million on CBS.

Outside of the Stanley Cup Final and some of the major golf tournaments, it is difficult to conceive of a marquee sporting event earning less than a 5.0 TV rating.

Ratings/Viewership For the Orange Bowl
Past ten years
Asterisk (*) indicates National Championship Game

Season
Date
Game
Net
Rating
Viewers (000)
2011-12
Wed., 1/4/12 WVU 70, CLEM 33 ESPN
4.5
7,174
2010-11
Mon., 1/3/11 STAN 40, VT 12 ESPN
6.7
10,682
2009-10
Tue., 1/5/10 IOWA 24, GT 14 FOX
6.8
10,879
2008-09
Thu., 1/1/09 VT 20, CIN 7 FOX
5.4
9,319
2007-08
Thu., 1/3/08 KU 24, VT 21 FOX
7.4
11,958
2006-07
Tue., 1/2/07 LOU 24, WF 13 FOX
7.0
10,660
2005-06
Tue., 1/3/06 PSU 26, FSU 23 ABC
12.3
18,557
2004-05
Tue., 1/4/05 USC 55, OK 19* ABC
13.7
21,419
2003-04
Thu., 1/1/04 MIA 16, FSU 14 ABC
9.1
14,183
2002-03
Thu., 1/2/03 USC 38, IOWA 17 ABC
9.7
15,235
2001-02
Wed., 1/2/02 UF 56, MD 23 ABC
9.5
14,027

(This year’s numbers from ESPN)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KY7Q2GLSWBU3TH2XXLOCKVVXLY Sean OLeary

    As with the other post, that Orange Bowl was up against Alabama/Miami title game in the Sugar Bowl, which did an 18.2. Funny how even against a title game, bowl games on New Year’s Day would still get decent ratings.

    I bet if the Orange Bowl was on Jan. 2nd against the Fiesta Bowl, which a very strong 9.0 rating, it would’ve had some spillover from casual football fans & done a better rating.

  • Palacenb

    I dropped cable coverage last year, so this game and many others weren’t available to me. I did watch some broadcast tv games, but none of the bigger games were available.

    I enjoy sports, and I used to watch ESPN regularly, but I found I was spending over a thousand dollars a year for over a hundred channels I rarely watched.

    I wonder what effect cable dropouts like myself are having on the ratings?