Sugar Bowl TV ratings - down double-digits

Submitted by robpollard on January 4th, 2012 at 4:53 PM

One of the good things about a BCS game is the nationwide TV exposure for a game on in prime time.

As such, I thought it interesting to see the ratings for yesterday's game came in at a 6.3 share, down 11% from the comparable 3rd BCS game last year (which last year was the Orange Bowl game btw Stanford and Va Tech, which got a 7.1).…

To compare it to last year's VACATED vs. Arkansas Sugar Bowl (which was the 4th BCS game on the schedule last year), that got a significantly higher 8.4 share.

I'm not sure why there was such a big drop, but my guess is a) having the "New Year's Games" on January 2nd this year threw everyone's calendars off (I can't tell you how many casual Michigan fans I talked to over the holidays who didn't know when Sugar Bowl was, so I can imagine non-UM fans had no clue) and b) people outside of Michigan and Virginia weren't impressed by UM and VA Tech's seasons and weren't that excited for the game (as opposed to, say, last year's clash btw higher ranked OSU and Arkansas).  But those are guesses.  I'd be interested to hear other people's thoughts.

As an aside, this year's "New Year's Day" games on January 2nd also took ratings hits, with only the Gator Bowl (OSU-FL) getting higher rating (2.2 vs 1.7).  The Outback Bowl was a 5.0, down from last year's 7.0, and Capital One was a 2.5, down from last year's 3.7…




January 4th, 2012 at 5:02 PM ^

Could also mean ESPN3 is being used more.  I'm a huge fan of ESPN3 on my TV via the XBox.  Or even on a laptop.  All kinds of awesome picture in picture features and the like.  The ratings services don't track streams, so who knows.  


January 4th, 2012 at 5:09 PM ^

There are a couple of factors I believe led to the decrease in ratings.

1)  Overload of games on Jan. 2, 2012 when more viewers actually had the day off work and were free to watch

2)  Two Eastern Time Zone teams and the game started at 8:30pm.  Nevermind that it didn't end until just after midnight.  Many viewers I suspect had to work yesterday and today and that late start would tune more viewers out at the end of the game.  Nothing like killing the main market area for both teams.

3)  I know Michigan sold the majority of their tickets.  My last read on the Virginia situation was that they were having a hard time selling out tickets.  This would lead me to belive that more viewers were less excited about watching VT play. 


Just a couple of conclusions I have drawn on the matter. 


January 4th, 2012 at 5:32 PM ^

this and the XBOX factor depending on how they actually determine ratings...that said, the Tuesday night thing and for sure now Wednesday night thing, pass...normally I'd be all over any college bowl...but after OT last night and being up for work early am tonight...just going to read about it on espn in the morning.

Charlie Chunk

January 4th, 2012 at 5:24 PM ^

Scanning the crowd at the game, VT seemed to have quite a following.  After all of the ticket sales problems, I didn't expect that.

Congratulations Team 132!

Go Blue!


January 4th, 2012 at 6:02 PM ^

Yes, my sense in the superdome was about 3 to 2 M to VT fans as well.  Of course I couldn't really see most of the Michigan side of the stadium. There were at least a couple thousand empty seats in the stadium and probably 5% or more on the VT side were wearing maize.  In the French Quarter the day of the game it seemed like 4-1 in favor of Michigan fans. 


January 4th, 2012 at 5:42 PM ^

I don't know about that.  I somewhat follow politics (although pretty casually), and I cannot imagine that many people actually tune in to "watch" the Iowa Caucus.  Seems like that would be something that you could just flip to on a commercial and flip back to the game. 


January 4th, 2012 at 5:31 PM ^

for recuriting but also getting some exposure in primetime something that we have not had in a while. This is awesome news thanks for the post!


January 4th, 2012 at 5:35 PM ^

reason for the ratings to be down was VT.  I would have loved to see what Boise St or Ks St would have done for the ratings.

Hell no one knows what a Hokie is anyway.

snarling wolverine

January 4th, 2012 at 5:38 PM ^

I think the general sloppiness of the game probably turned off some viewers.  If I'd been a neutral fan, I'd have probably turned it off at halftime, especially given that it was played on a weeknight.  


January 4th, 2012 at 5:54 PM ^

I don't think it was sloppiness I think it was that Virginia Tech had a month to prepare for us, and were actually a better team than the team that played vs. clemson.  Don't listen to your Spartan coworkers who say that Georgia was a better team than VT.  They lost to Boise State, South Carolina, and LSU.  Their best win was against Auburn.   


January 5th, 2012 at 1:32 PM ^

Don't know about Georgia vs. Va Tech, but we do know about MSU vs. U of M.  That was, once again, settled on the field.   All the vanquished has left in those situations is "well, we got better and you didn't" cept against Iowa or something.   Then the vanquished has to try to compare scores like well this team beat that team and that team beat the other so we must be better even though you beat us. 


All MSU really can say is well, we won so I guess that means you're could be better. 

October 2012 cant get here fast enough for Dantonio and Gholston, who play about as good as anyone with a chip on their shoulder.   Good luck to you. 


January 4th, 2012 at 5:50 PM ^

I have watched about 80% of the games thus far on my dual-screen setup here,  which is off the Nielsen radar. I did, however, watch the Sugar Bowl on  the actual TV, so I tried to boost the ratings for the  game I actually, really cared about. Of course, karma will get me somehow - every third commercial will be an Allstate commercial as a result. 


January 4th, 2012 at 5:55 PM ^

Another factor - this was the first Sugar Bowl in decades that didn't have a top-10 ranked team. This certainly has an affect as well, especially since VT isn't traditionally a big draw for any part of the country. 


January 4th, 2012 at 6:18 PM ^

I watched the game, and as a Michigan alum and fan, was thrilled with the victory.

However, there are two reasons that I believe viewership is significantly down:

  1. The date. When all the games were on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, you could gorge yourself, watching game after game. Once you are into the regular work week, it becomes much more difficult. For instance, I allowed my 10 year old to stay up and watch the entire game. I know he was very tired this morning.
  2. The Broadcast Network (ESPN.) I am cheap. Living in the Chicago area, I get CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, & a slew of other local channels . . . for free. To get ESPN, it would cost me another $700 a year. For the Michigan games I want to see, I can go to the local bar, spend $20 - $30, and still end up way ahead.  I resented having most of the bowl games on ESPN. If all the games were on major networks, I'd watch more games. Here's the deal:  as a Michigan alum, I will gladly make the effort to find a place to watch the Sugar Bowl. But I'm not going to leave my house and my family to watch a ton of games I don't care that much about.

For the casual football fan, to have the TV on all day New Year's Day, flipping between CBS, NBC, & ABC, is no problem. However, to carve out time multiple nights, during the work week, and have to go out to a friend's house or a bar to catch a game between two teams I don't care about (WVa? Clemson? LSU? Alabama? Not going to happen.)

Wanting to watch bowl games is not enough for me to pony up for cable. Can I afford it? Of course. But I don't care enough about other teams. If I can watch most Michigan games, and also local pro teams, that's enough for me.

If I had been able to watch most of the BCS bowls on January 1, on major networks, I would have been added to the viewership numbers.


January 4th, 2012 at 6:50 PM ^

AT&T Uverse phone & internet with wifi is $60 a month, which I can live with. I can also live with getting content from mgoblog, and like I said, catching some Michigan games a block from my home. I probably would be more torn and would pony up for cable if I lived somewhere else that didn't have such decent major network reception. But yeah, I guess I'm pretty cheap. What can I say?


January 4th, 2012 at 6:30 PM ^

Last year's Sugar Bowl had some extra intrigue because the country knew OSU was starting players that had no business playing in that game.  But the whole greed, money, Tressel's "ethical" and convenient promise that you could play if you come back next year and sit out 5 games issue allowed it to happen. 

There was no drama leading up to this game other than people thinking Virginia Tech had no business playing in it.  And while we were the most improved team in country this year, the Big Ten being down again wasn't going to put up ratings like last year.  All things considered, a 6.3 isn't that bad. 

coastal blue

January 4th, 2012 at 6:32 PM ^

I thought having Michigan in would guarauntee a higher rating, but this is pretty abysmal.

Some past Sugar Bowls:

2010: 8.50 Cincy - Florida: Tebow's last game, makese sense...but Cincinatti??

2009: 7.80 Utah - Alabama: Curiousity over Utah I suppose?

2008: 7.00 Georgia - Hawai: Same? Still, a game with Hawaii outdrawing Michigan...

2005: 9.5 Auburn - Virginia Tech: Another Va Tech game much higher...

Considering Michigan fans put up the best  non-BCS rating of all time (9.13 at the Capitol One Bowl vs. Florida) I would have expected something similiar for our trip back to the big time. 


January 4th, 2012 at 6:41 PM ^

I think the high ratings for the 2005 Sugar Bowl was because the top 3 teams in the country were undefeated and Auburn was left out of the title game.  BCS haters might have been rooting for them to win as yet another example to prove that the BCS does not work. 

Hawaii/Georgia and Utah/Alabama....I got nothing. 


January 4th, 2012 at 6:57 PM ^

Uncompelling match-up to people who don't wear Maize or Maroon & Orange

It was a Tuesday night right after a lot of Americans just had to go back to work for the first day after break (like me). If it was any other big ten team vs Virginia Tech I wouldn't have watched it in all likelihood


January 4th, 2012 at 6:58 PM ^

There was a lot of people who were against this matchup. Obviously we were pumped up for it, but a lot of others look at it similarily to the Orange bowl tonight and don't really care.


January 4th, 2012 at 8:50 PM ^

M fans, Congrats on the win. For me, a win is a win is a win. MSU was for the most part dominated by UGA in our game (especially John Jenkins, Alec Ogletree, and Jarvis Jones) but in the end came out with a W. Embrace the Sugar Bowl win. Good for the seniors and good for the program.

The reason for the drop off in ratings is that people are fed up with the BCS. People are realizing that the BCS decisions have a lot to do with money and very little to do with football. There was a lot of national talk about this game in particular and how several smaller name yet higher ranked schools were passed over to pick 2 names that would fill up more bars and hotels. I am taking off my Spartan glasses for a minute (shocking, I bet) and speaking as a fan of the sport when I say I would love to have seen one of those teams in the game instead. Imagine the intrigue in a Michigan vs. Boise State game: Establishment vs. the anti-establishment. Or how about the heisman trophy winner against Bud Foster's hard hitting defense.

I think you get what I am trying to say. Some of these writers sound like they agree:………

Anyways, here's to hoping another team from Michigan will be winning in New Orleans this week.

Flame away I guess.



January 4th, 2012 at 10:44 PM ^

Of course, none of this means the Big Ten is "back," and none of this means that Michigan is back, either; the Wolverines didn't even win their own division within the conference. Yet nobody carries the flag for misguided Big Ten pretension quite like Michigan does, so let us permit the Wolverines their moment of glory before Urban Meyer squashes their dreams for the next decade.

I'd say you're understating things a bit.


January 5th, 2012 at 2:33 AM ^

 Enough of that sugar-coating Weinreb ( could not resist the irony ), tell us how you really feel . I guess since Urban is going to win endless National Championships before the season even starts, I don't know why we in the rest of the Big1G even feel it necessary to field teams or worse yet have the audacity to make tOSU play football when we already know the inevitable outcome. We as well as Sparty should enjoy our little insignifigant victories before we are crushed by years of tOSU supremacy. Woe be us for basking in this brief moment of false glory.