The only bowl games of the season on ABC both suffered declines in ratings and viewership.
The 2012 Outback Bowl, won by #17 Michigan State over #16 Georgia in triple-overtime, earned a 5.1 final rating and 8.174 million viewers on ABC January 2, down 28% in ratings and 34% in viewership from last season (FLA/PSU: 7.1, 12.445M), but up 46% and 44%, respectively, from the 2009-10 season (AUB/NWU: 3.5, 5.685M, ESPN).
The Outback Bowl was the season’s highest rated non-BCS bowl and the second-most viewed, trailing only the Cotton Bowl (ARK/KSU: 8.363M, FOX) in the latter category. Notably, game earned better numbers than the Orange Bowl on ESPN (WVU/CLEM: 4.5, 7.174M).
Though down from last year, the Outback Bowl easily outperformed previous years on ESPN. From 2008 to 2010, the Outback Bowl earned less than six million viewers each year.
While the Outback Bowl has benefited from a move from broadcast to cable, the same cannot be said of the Liberty Bowl. The December 31 game between Cincinnati and Vanderbilt earned a 1.9 final rating and 2.967 million viewers on ABC, down 37% in ratings and 38% in viewership from last season (UCF/UGA: 3.0, 4.755M, ESPN), and down 50% and 54%, respectively, from the 2009-10 season (ARK/ECU: 3.8, 6.449M, ESPN).
(This season’s numbers from Sports Business Daily)