ESPN is off to a great start in the final year of college football's Bowl Championship Series, scoring year-over-year gains for both the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl on Wednesday.
According to Nielsen overnights, Michigan State's 24-20 victory over Stanford in the 100th Rose Bowl Game averaged a strong 11.2 household rating, up 17% from the 9.6 for Stanford-Wisconsin a year ago. That year-ago contest averaged 17 million viewers in the nationals, so Wednesday afternoon's game likely drew in the vicinity of 20 million viewers.
On Wednesday night, the Fiesta Bowl between Central Florida and Baylor averaged a 7.1 overnight rating -- up 9% from last year's comparable game (6.5 for Florida State-Northern Illinois), which ended up drawing 10.6 million total viewers.
ESPN also had a particularly strong showing on New Year's Eve with the Chick-Fil-A Bowl between Texas A&M and Duke, which averaged a 5.3 overnight household rating -- the best ever for any ESPN bowl game outside the BCS. Texas A&M, behind 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, rallied to win 52-48.
ESPN will air the national championship game, between Auburn and Florida State, on Monday.
Rose, Fiesta Bowls Bowl Deliver Ratings Gains for ESPN
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