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BCS Era Ends On A High Note
Following a record-setting bowl season, title game is third- most-viewed cable program of all time
Jan 09, 2014

When Florida State University, an IMG College Partner school, claimed its third national title with a thrilling come-from-behind victory in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship Game against Auburn University before more than 94,000 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, it marked the end of a very successful BCS era.

The BCS matched the top two AP-ranked teams in the Championship game 13 times in 16 games, an 81% success rate. During 16 years of the BCS, IMG College has represented every single National Championship team in some capacity.

The BCS finale was a game for the ages – ranking as the third-most viewed cable television program of all time. The game averaged 25.6 million viewers and a 14.4 U.S. household fast national rating, according to Nielsen.

Engineering the biggest comeback in the history of BCS game in its 16 years, the top-ranked Seminoles defeated the second-ranked Tigers, also an IMG client, 34-31 to end the BCS era on a high note.

The Seminoles finished the season undefeated (14-0). Florida State’s football team has won two other national championships, including the BCS National Championship (1993, 1999), along with seventeen conference titles and five division titles.

IMG College represents the licensing, multimedia rights, and seating for Auburn and Florida State, ticket solutions for Auburn, and licensing for the BCS.  In total, IMG College represents 68 of the 70 teams that participated in 2013-14 post-season bowl games plus 26 of the college football bowl games, including the BCS Football National Championship Game.

This season’s five BCS games averaged a very healthy 16.5 million viewers and a 9.4 household score, up 9% and 7% respectively over last year’s quintet of games, according to Nielsen.

FSU’s thrilling National Championship win accented a series of tight, dramatic Bowl games bringing viewership increases:

  • The Allstate Sugar Bowl’s average 16.3 million viewers (9.3 HH rating) was the most-viewed Sugar Bowl since 2004…a strong +61% increase in viewership and +50% rating over last year’s game.
  • Ratings for the 100th Rose Bowl soared – ESPN’s 11.2 overnight rating was up +17% over 2013.
  • The Chick-fil-A Bowl scored big gains – the 5.3 rating was up +17.8% from last year’s 4.5 Nielsen rating.
  • The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl’s 7.1 overnight rating/10.6 million viewers was up +9.2% from previous season’s New Year’s night game from the Orange Bowl.
  • The Discover Orange Bowl drew 11.4 million viewers (+8%) and a 6.7 (+10%) fast national rating.

Big Bowls are no anomaly. They build on a wildly popular College Football regular season:

  • College Football was the top-rated overall program on four of the first five Saturday nights of the 2013 season.
  • CBS, FOX and ESPN’s cable networks each saw gains for their respective college football telecasts in 2013.
  • The SEC on CBS averaged 7.4 million viewers, a +20% jump from ’12.  CBS had its best college football season since ’01.
  • FOX averaged 3.1 million viewers for its College Football games, +10% from 2012.
  • ESPN’s college football slate gained across all nets – averaging 2.6 million viewers (+2.6% from ’12); ESPN2’s game viewership was up +8% and ESPNU increased +4%.

"While the BCS was at times controversial, a look back at the last 16 years shows epic games and extraordinary growth for college football," said Ben Sutton Jr., President of IMG College. "The three biggest events in cable TV history are BCS games, and the top two teams usually went head to head in the title game. We tip our hats to an idea and format that helped make college football America's second most-popular sport. We anticipate the College Football Playoff will now take the sport to even higher levels."