ESPN rang out 2014 on a ratings high, with a strong performance from a trio of bowl games.
ESPN’s college football tripleheader on Wednesday, Dec. 31 – the first three telecasts of the new College Football Playoff “New Year’s Six” format – delivered the most-viewed and highest-rated New Year’s Eve tripleheader on an ESPN network on record since 1990, according to officials at the worldwide leader.
The Chick-fil-A Peach, Vizio Fiesta and Capital One Orange combined to average 7.12 million viewers and a 4.3 U.S. household rating, according to Nielsen data. Those results marked respective gains of 53% and 54% over the 4.65 million viewers and 2.8 rating recorded with the 2013 tripleheader.
Moreover, each of the postseason bowls – all of which are part of the College Football Playoff semifinal rotation – delivered the largest audience for a New Year’s Eve game on an ESPN network in its respective timeslot.
ESPN’s coverage of Capital One Orange Bowl at 8:30 p.m. (ET) – No. 12 Georgia Tech (pictured) beating No. 7 Mississippi State 49-34 – averaged 8.94 million viewers and a 5.0 rating, making it the most-viewed New Year’s Eve game on ESPN on record, according to network officials. Digitally, the contest delivered 257,000 live unique viewers, average minute audience of 83,000 and 16.6 milion live minutes viewed on WatchESPN.
The Vizio Fiesta Bowl at 4 p.m. – a 38-30 No. 20 Boise State victory over No. 10 Arizona – averaged 7.41 million viewers and a 4.6 rating. On WatchESPN, the Fiesta Bowl generated 292,000 live unique viewers, an average minute audience of 75,000 and 17.4 million live minutes viewed.
ESPN’s Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at 12:30 p.m. – No. 6 TCU throttled No. 9 Ole Miss 42-3 in a contest that featured a 28-0 halftime lead – averaged 5,01 million viewers and a 3.4 rating/ The blowout posted 317,000 live unique viewers, an average minute audience of 87,000 and 17.8 million live minutes viewed.
“The first New Year's Eve tripleheader in the new College Football Playoff era on ESPN generated our largest New Year's Eve college football audience ever, delivering on our goal of reclaiming the New Year's holiday for college football fans," said Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president, programming and acquisitions.