It’s safe to say that the New Year’s Six games for ESPN were a success in terms of audience.
According to a release from the network itself, four of the six games saw viewership increase compared to the same time frame last year. That being said, the overall average TV rating for the games dropped from 8.2 to 7.1. But that doesn’t mean viewership was down.
According t0 the network, more people watched via WatchESPN than ever before. An average of 776,000 unique viewers watched the game digitally. That’s a good sign for the network in terms of online viewership, even though it still requires a cable or satellite subscription to watch the games.
“The College Football Playoff is a long-term, multiplatform play for us,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president of programming and scheduling said in the release. “With that said, there are many variables that impact ratings results including what happens on the field and the numbers this year were obviously impacted by the unbalanced scores of these games. Still, four of the New Year’s Six bowls posted double-digit ratings increases and we saw near historic successes for streaming the games on WatchESPN across the two days. College football is strong, vibrant and growing and we look forward to the National Championship game on January 11.”
One has to wonder if this will be motivation to offer a standalone digital subscription option as the WatchESPN service continues to expand. You can check out full ratings details, including local viewership numbers, by checking out the full release.