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Ratings Suggest Fans Are Still Interested in Lower-Tiered Bowls

  • Five early bowl games have already approached or topped two million viewers.
  • The numbers suggest non-New Year’s Six Bowls are still relevant.
NC Central players celebrate after beating Jackson State in the Celebration Bowl
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The future 12-team College Football Playoff is expected to elevate the relevance of New Year’s Six Bowls, given that all of them will host a playoff game in 2024 and 2025. 

But the new setup has called into question the future for the rest of Bowl Season, which will now be played against a backdrop of a new playoff structure.

For now, fans still appear interested in non-New Year’s Six Bowls — if television ratings are any indication. Five have already notched more than 1.9 million viewers.

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  • Vegas Bowl, 2.5M
  • Celebration Bowl, 2.42M 
  • LA Bowl, 2.39M
  • New Mexico Bowl, 2.03M
  • Fenway Bowl, 1.96M

The Celebration Bowl and New Mexico Bowl saw rating increases compared with last year — the Celebration Bowl set an all-time record. This was the inaugural year of the Fenway Bowl.

The Vegas Bowl and LA Bowls saw declines but still topped two million viewers.

Bowl Season executive director Nick Carparelli believes there will always be a place for lower-profile bowls in FBS football — if for no reason other than the sport’s sheer size.

“Regardless of the playoff being at four teams now or 12 teams in the future…that’s not enough to serve 10 conferences and 130 institutions.” He believes bowls give coaches and players “something to play for.”

Bowl games also provide economic benefits for local communities by drawing tourism and customers to local businesses. Most were launched by local chambers of commerce or charitable organizations, College Football Hall of Fame historian Denis Crawford previously told FOS.

And even if that isn’t enough, Carparelli has plans to keep these bowls relevant — he’ll be exploring incorporating name, image, and likeness deals into the bowl experience and using bowls to promote the future CFP structure.

“The College Football Playoff is great for the game of college football,” Carparelli said. “That being said, Bowl Season is equally important, if not more so, for a greater number of institutions.”