via press release:
Most-Viewed Sugar Bowl Since 2004 Averages 16,339,000 Viewers; Three-Game BCS Average Up 23 Percent Over 2013
Based on Nielsen’s Fast National ratings, ESPN’s coverage of the Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 2 averaged 16,339,000 viewers and a 9.3 US HH rating. The game – No. 11 Oklahoma over No. 3 Alabama 45-31 – is the most-viewed Allstate Sugar Bowl since the 2004 matchup that crowned the 2003 BCS National Champion and most-viewed that was not a championship game since 2001.
The 2014 telecast posted increases of 61 percent (vs. 10,125,000 viewers) and 50 percent (6.2 US HH rating) over ESPN’s 2013 January 2 BCS matchup, which was also the Allstate Sugar Bowl (No. 21 Louisville beating No. 3 Florida 33-23).
ESPN’s first three Bowl Championship Series telecasts of 2014 – the Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and Allstate Sugar Bowl – combined is averaging 15,372,000 viewers and an 8.7 US HH rating. The three-game average marks an increase of 23 percent (vs. 12,534,000) and 21 percent (vs. 7.2) for the first three BCS bowls in 2013 (Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO, Discover Orange Bowl and Allstate Sugar Bowl).
Fans also turned to WatchESPN to follow the matchup, spending 21.5 million minutes on the game (up 269 percent), the highest amount for a college football game on the platform this season. The bowl also garnered an average minute audience of 91,000, a 211 percent increase over last season. Combined, the three games averaged 17.0 million live minutes viewed (up 86 percent) and an average minute audience of 76,000 (up 65 percent).
Birmingham led all markets for the telecast with a 50.1 rating, marking the fourth highest overnight for a bowl game on ESPN in the market (the other three were BCS Championship matchups). Oklahoma City was the second highest rated market with a 34.7 followed by Tulsa (33.5 rating – which is the highest rating for a bowl on ESPN in the market), New Orleans (23.9), Nashville (18.7), Austin (17.8), Knoxville (17.6), Memphis (17.4), Atlanta (16.6) and Jacksonville (16.2).
ESPN & the BCS
ESPN's fourth year of exclusive coverage of the five BCS matchups will continue tonight with the Discover Orange Bowl (No. 12 Clemson vs. No. 7 Ohio State, Friday, Jan. 3) and VIZIO BCS National Championship (No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Auburn, Monday, Jan. 6), both at 8:30 p.m.