With Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel the star attraction, the Cotton Bowl surged to big numbers on FOX.
Friday’s Texas A&M/Oklahoma Cotton Bowl drew 11.9 million viewers on FOX, up 43% from Arkansas/Kansas State last year (8.4M), and up 19% from Louisiana State/Texas A&M in 2011 (10.0M).
The game ranks as the most-viewed Cotton Bowl since at least 2001 (viewership prior to 2002 was not available), topping the previous high set by LSU/Texas A&M in ’11.
In addition, the game earned the largest non-BCS bowl audience on any network since the 2011 Florida/Penn State Outback Bowl (12.4M).
Including the BCS, the Cotton Bowl ranks as the third-most watched game of the 2012-13 bowl season — trailing only the Rose (17.0M) and Fiesta (12.3M) bowls. Both the Cotton Bowl and the Georgia/Nebraska Capital One Bowl on ABC (11.0M) attracted more viewers than the Orange Bowl (10.6M) and Sugar Bowl (10.1M).
(Friday’s numbers from TV By the Numbers)