Back in Nov. 2012, ESPN secured the rights to the College Football Playoff through 2025. The price tag for the acquisition was $7.3 billion (or $470 million per year), but the agreement in principle secured full rights internationally, as well as radio, online, mobile, and television rights.
The development and implementation of the playoff was a result of the ongoing requests by college football enthusiasts who felt the computer/human polling during the BCS era was inconsistent, and that its history was laden with costly errors.
With great expectations for the playoff, no expenses were spared in marketing and promoting the games. Due to the production dedication, the Rose Bowl had 28.2 million viewers, and the Sugar Bowl had 28.3 million viewers.
Attendance at the Rose Bowl reached another astounding number, as 91,322 fans and spectators descended into the iconic stadium in Pasadena, Calif. This was compared to the 70,000 Sugar Bowl attendees who packed the 72,003 capacity Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
With the numbers aggregated from the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, ESPN now holds 18 of the highest rated cable broadcasts in history.
While the semifinals produced huge numbers for the network and its advertisers, it still falls well short of Super Bowl XLVIII. The game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks drew 111 million viewers, as the Seahawks dominated 43-8 to win its first Lombardi Trophy.
According the Nielsen Social Guide, 5.6 million people sent 25.3 million tweets during Super Bowl XLVIII.
While NFL numbers greatly outnumber those between the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, it also sells multi-million dollar commercial spots, and garners widespread attention from pop-culture loyalists simply due to its Super Bowl halftime show performances.
As the College Football Playoffs continue to grow in popularity, at some point, ESPN will likely add to the entertainment value of its halftime shows in some capacity to strengthen its numbers. Likewise, I wouldn’t be surprised if the commercials aired during its broadcasts start seeing flashes or draw controversy, too, as they could become as highly discussed as those from the Super Bowl.
The Oregon Ducks take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship game on January 12 in Arlington, Texas, with kickoff at 8:30pm EST.
*Section Photo credit to Robert Hanashiro, USA Today Sports; Featured Photo (above) credit to Brynn Anderson, Associated Press