2012-13 College Football Bowl TV Ratings: BCS, SEC, Top the Charts

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The Bowl Championship Series and games involving the Southeastern Conference earned the largest audiences during the 2012-13 bowl season.

As is always the case, the BCS National Championship Game earned the top audience of the bowl season [see chart]. Alabama’s blowout win over Notre Dame drew a 15.1 U.S. rating and 26.4 million viewers on ESPN, the largest audience for any bowl game in two years.

The Stanford/Wisconsin Rose Bowl (9.4, 17.0M) and Oregon/Kansas State Fiesta Bowl (7.4, 12.3M) ranked second and third, respectively.

Rounding out the top five were two non-BCS bowls. The Texas A&M/Oklahoma Cotton Bowl ranked fourth with a 7.2 rating and 11.9 million viewers on FOX, while the Georgia/Nebraska Capital One Bowl scored a 6.6 and 11.0 million on ABC.

Of the top ten bowl games this season, nine were either BCS bowls or games that involved an SEC team.

The Oklahoma State/Purdue Heart of Dallas Bowl was the lowest rated and least-viewed game of the bowl season, earning a 0.5 U.S. rating and 943,000 viewers on ESPNU. In a close second was the Arizona State/Navy Fight Hunger Bowl, with a 0.7 and 1.1 million on ESPN2.

2012-13 College Football Bowl TV Ratings
With comparisons to the past three seasons
* UPDATE 1/11: Ratings/viewership for the December 31 Sun Bowl on CBS added to chart.

Date Bowl Net 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11 2009-10
Mon., 1/7/13 BCS Nat’l Champ. Gm.:
Alabama/Notre Dame
ESPN
15.1 (26.4M)
14.0 (24.2M)
15.3 (27.3M)
17.2 (30.8M)
Tue., 1/1/13 Rose:
Stanford/Wisconsin
ESPN
9.4 (17.0M)
10.2 (17.6M)
11.3 (20.6M)
13.2 (24.0M)
Thu., 1/3/13 Fiesta:
Oregon/Kansas State
ESPN
7.4 (12.3M)
8.4 (13.7M)
6.2 (10.8M)
8.2 (13.8M)
Fri., 1/4/13 Cotton:
Texas A&M/Oklahoma
FOX
7.2 (11.9M)
5.0 (8.4M)
5.8 (10.0M)
4.5 (7.3M)
Tue., 1/1/13 Capital One:
Georgia/Nebraska
ABC
6.6 (11.0M)
2.9 (4.5M)
3.7 (6.0M)
6.8 (11.6M)
Wed., 1/2/13 Sugar:
Louisville/Florida
ESPN
6.2 (10.1M)
6.1 (9.7M)
8.2 (13.6M)
8.5 (15.5M)
Tue., 1/1/13 Orange:
FSU/Northern Illinois
ESPN
6.1 (10.6M)
4.5 (7.2M)
6.7 (10.7M)
6.8 (10.9M)
Mon., 12/31/12 Peach:
Clemson/LSU
ESPN
4.8 (8.6M)
3.6 (6.2M)
4.3 (7.5M)
4.2 (7.5M)
Tue., 1/1/13 Outback:
South Carolina/Michigan
ESPN
4.3 (7.6M)
5.1 (8.2M)
7.1 (12.4M)
3.5 (5.7M)
Sat., 12/29/12 Alamo:
Texas/Oregon State
ESPN
4.1 (6.7M)
4.4 (6.9M)
2.8 (4.6M)
4.8 (7.8M)
Sat., 12/29/12 Pinstripe:
Syracuse/West Virginia
ESPN
3.4 (5.1M)
2.1 (3.2M)
2.3 (3.5M)
no game
Fri., 12/28/12 Texas:
Texas Tech/Minnesota
ESPN
2.9 (4.6M)
2.7 (3.9M)
2.7 (4.2M)
2.1 (3.2M)
Sat., 12/22/12 Las Vegas:
Boise State/Washington
ESPN
2.9 (4.4M)
2.1 (3.1M)
3.3 (5.4M)
2.2 (3.5M)
Sat., 12/29/12 Buffalo Wild Wings:
Michigan State/TCU
ESPN
2.7 (4.4M)
3.0 (4.8M)
2.2 (3.6M)
0.4 (673K)
Mon., 12/31/12 Sun:
Georgia Tech/USC
CBS
2.7 (4.0M)
2.7 (4.1M)
3.0 (4.6M)
3.3 (5.0M)
Thu., 12/27/12 Belk:
Cincinnati/Duke
ESPN
2.6 (3.9M)
2.2 (3.5M)
2.0 (2.9M)
3.9 (6.1M)
Fri., 12/28/12 Russell Athletic:
Virginia Tech/Rutgers
ESPN
2.5 (3.9M)
3.3 (5.2M)
2.1 (3.3M)
3.9 (6.2M)
Sat., 12/29/12 Armed Forces:
Rice/Air Force
ESPN
2.3 (3.3M)
1.4 (2.0M)
1.3 (1.9M)
1.6 (2.2M)
Thu., 12/27/12 Holiday:
Baylor/UCLA
ESPN
2.0 (2.9M)
2.7 (4.3M)
3.5 (5.7M)
3.7 (6.1M)
Sat., 12/15/12 Famous Idaho Potato:
Utah State/Toledo
ESPN
1.9 (2.8M)
1.7 (2.4M)
1.8 (2.9M)
2.1 (3.0M)
Sat., 1/5/13 BBVA Compass:
Mississippi/Pittsburgh
ESPN
1.9 (2.7M)
1.5 (2.0M)
2.2 (3.3M)
1.6 (2.4M)
Wed., 12/26/12 Little Ceasars:
C. Michigan/W. Kentucky
ESPN
1.8 (2.7M)
1.7 (2.5M)
1.4 (2.2M)
2.6 (3.8M)
Sat., 12/22/12 New Orleans:
UL-Lafayette/ECU
ESPN
1.8 (2.6M)
1.6 (2.3M)
1.3 (2.1M)
0.7 (993K)
Sat., 12/15/12 New Mexico:
Arizona/Nevada
ESPN
1.8 (2.6M)
1.5 (2.2M)
1.8 (2.8M)
2.4 (3.6M)
Mon., 12/31/12 Liberty:
Tulsa/Iowa State
ESPN
1.7 (2.7M)
1.9 (3.0M)
3.0 (4.8M)
3.8 (6.4M)
Thu., 12/20/12 Poinsettia:
BYU/San Diego State
ESPN
1.5 (2.2M)
2.1 (3.1M)
2.3 (3.6M)
2.4 (3.7M)
Mon., 12/24/12 Hawaii:
SMU/Fresno State
ESPN
1.4 (2.4M)
1.4 (2.5M)
2.1 (3.7M)
1.7 (2.9M)
Tue., 1/1/13 Gator:
Northwestern/Miss. St.
ESPN2
1.4 (2.2M)
1.9 (2.9M)
1.7 (2.8M)
3.9 (6.4M)
Mon., 12/31/12 Music City:
Vanderbilt/N.C. State
ESPN
1.4 (2.0M)
2.7 (4.2M)
4.2 (7.1M)
1.7 (2.8M)
Sun., 1/6/13 GoDaddy.com:
Arkansas St./Kent St.
ESPN
1.3 (1.9M)
1.2 (1.8M)
1.7 (2.6M)
2.4 (3.5M)
Thu., 12/27/12 Military:
SJSU/Bowling Green
ESPN
1.3 (1.9M)
1.5 (2.3M)
1.5 (2.1M)
1.9 (2.8M)
Fri., 12/21/12 St. Petersburg:
UCF/Ball State
ESPN
1.3 (1.9M)
1.5 (2.2M)
2.0 (3.0M)
1.6 (2.5M)
Fri., 12/28/12 Independence:
Ohio/UL-Monroe
ESPN
1.3 (1.7M)
1.5 (2.5M)
1.4 (2.2M)
2.0 (3.3M)
Sat., 12/29/12 Fight Hunger:
Arizona State/Navy
ESPN2
0.7 (1.1M)
2.3 (3.5M)
1.6 (2.5M)
4.6 (7.6M)
Tue., 1/1/13 Heart of Dallas:
Oklahoma St./Purdue
ESPNU
0.5 (943K)
N/A
N/A
no game

CORRECTION: The original post mixed up the Northwestern/Mississippi State Gator Bowl and the Oklahoma State/Purdue Heart of Dallas Bowl.

(Bowl numbers from a variety of sources, including ESPN, Media Life Magazine, Son of the Bronx; Sun Bowl numbers from Sports Business Daily)

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  • James Montgomery

    I suspect this article is incorrect in the following sense. I believe Notre Dame’s average weekly viewership over 13 games was higher than that of the most viewed game in each of the BCS Conferences. In other words, on average, Notre Dame outdrew the best game in every conference over the 13 game season. That is pretty remarkable.

  • James Montgomery

    Similarly, over 13 games, Notre Dame outdrew Alabama, Texas, USC, Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Stanford and Oregon. Notre Dame is the most watched college football team of 2013.

  • Dong Fuller

    I laugh when Texas fan think they are the dallas cowboys of the US. So called America’s Team. Notre Dame is easily the most popular Football team in the country. When they are winning its off the charts. If the BCS game was close the ratings would have been huge but that game was over in the first 5 minutes of the game.