Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Delivers Its Highest Non-CFP Semifinal Rating of New Year’s Six Era

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Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Delivers Its Highest Non-CFP Semifinal Rating of New Year’s Six Era

  • Cotton Bowl is Up 84% from Last Season’s Game
  • Second-Best Non-CFP Semifinal Cotton Bowl on Record across All Networks
  • ESPN Televises Three Highest-Rated Bowl Games on Dec. 29 across All Networks

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic featuring USC vs. Ohio State (Dec. 29, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) delivered a 5.9 overnight, the highest-rated non-CFP Semifinal Cotton Bowl of the New Year’s Six Era. The game, which featured Ohio State jumping out to a 24-0 first half lead, is up 84% from last season’s New Year’s Day Cotton Bowl Classic (Jan. 1, 2017) and up 11% from the Cotton Bowl during the Inaugural year of the New Year’s Six (Jan. 1, 2015).

Expanding beyond the New Year’s Six era, this year’s Cotton Bowl is the bowl game’s second best non-CFP Semifinal rating on record, across all networks.

Columbus Easily Earns Best Local Rating
For the Buckeyes’ 24-7 victory, Columbus was the highest-rated local market, delivering a 43.3 local rating. Dayton and Cleveland were second and third respectively, earning a 23.9 and 21.0 local rating. The complete top 10:

Rank Overnight Market
1 43.3 Columbus
2 23.9 Dayton
3 21.0 Cleveland
4 13.5 Cincinnati
5 12.6 Birmingham
6 8.9 Knoxville
7 8.4 Oklahoma City
8 8.3 Nashville
9 7.8 Greenville
7.8 Louisville


ESPN Airs Three Highest-Rated College Football Bowl Games on Friday, Dec. 29
Across the entire day, ESPN’s three college football bowl telecasts were the three highest-rated bowl games across the sport’s four-game slate. The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl featuring Kentucky vs. Northwestern (4:30 p.m., ESPN) delivered a 3.0 overnight and the Belk Bowl between Wake Forest and Texas A&M (1:00 p.m., ESPN) delivered a 2.0 overnight.

Records for the Cotton Bowl date back to 2005.
The Goodyear Cotton Bowl was a CFP Semifinal for the 2015 college football season.

Please note: Nielsen reported numbers for all ESPN telecast reflect TV viewing + Streaming audiences on OTT devices (such as Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, gaming consoles and smart TVs). This new system has been used since Sept. 26.


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner



Derek Volner

I work in college sports, which includes football and basketball, with an emphasis on Olympic Sports. Additionally, I handle ESPN’s coverage of high school athletics and recruiting.
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