In Time, ESPN's Decision To Take Rose Bowl From ABC Will Prove Profitable

Rose Bowl Stadium

Photo: AP Images

ESPN’s telecast of the Rose Bowl earned an 11.7 overnight rating on Saturday night, making it the best-rated cable program since 2001 (excluding NFL games).However ratings were down 15 per cent from last year’s Rose Bowl Game on ABC, which garnered a 13.8 rating. Bear in mind, ABC is available in 15 per cent more households than is ESPN.

The ratings quell concerns that smaller football programs are ratings nightmares for college football broadcasters. The TCU-Wisconsin matchup probably even fuelled interest, as it was the first time a non-BCS school played in the “Grandaddy of Them All.”

But the numbers do not vindicate Disney’s decision to pull the game from ABC and televise the Rose Bowl on the cable sports network, at least in the short-term. This year, ESPN became the exclusive broadcaster of the BCS (and almost all bowl games) and wanted to highlight that accomplishment by televising even the most marketable games on the cable flagship, rather than its more widely-viewed broadcast cousin.

Though Disney certainly sacrificed some ratings to air all the bowl games on ESPN, it figures to see a ratings boost across all 35 bowl games throughout the four-year television agreement by streamlining its telecasts across the Worldwide Leader.

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