Ohio State-USC Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Delivers Most-Watched Non-CFP Semifinal Cotton Bowl of the New Year’s Six Era

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Ohio State-USC Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Delivers Most-Watched Non-CFP Semifinal Cotton Bowl of the New Year’s Six Era

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic featuring USC vs. Ohio State (Dec. 29, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)  is the most-watched non-CFP Semifinal Cotton Bowl of the New Year’s Six era, as the game had a Nielsen-reported audience of 9,468,000 viewers based on the company’s fast nationals data. The viewership for the one-sided, Buckeye’s victory was up 74% from last season’s New Year’s Day Cotton Bowl (Jan. 1, 2017) and up 4% from the Cotton Bowl during the inaugural year of the New Year’s Six (Jan. 1, 2015). Beyond the New Year’s Six era, the Trojans-Buckeyes Cotton Bowl viewership is the bowl’s third best viewership in 20 years, excluding the one year it was a College Football Playoff Semifinal.

As documented this morning in the overnight ratings release, Columbus was the highest-rated local market, followed by Dayton and Cleveland for the game.

ESPN’s Bowl Telecast Lead the Way on Friday, Dec. 29
Yesterday, ESPN’s three college football bowl telecasts were the three highest-rated bowl games across the sport’s four-game slate. They are also expected to be the three most-viewed games across the day when all final numbers are reported early next week.

ESPN’s Coverage of the New Year’s Six Continues Today and New Year’s Day
ESPN’s coverage of the New Year’s Six continues today with the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl featuring No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 11 Washington (4 p.m.) and the Capital One Orange Bowl between No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 10 Miami (8 p.m.). The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl between No. 7 Auburn and No. 12 UCF (12:30 p.m.), as well as both College Football Playoff Semifinals: The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual between No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 Georgia (5 p.m.) and the Allstate Sugar Bowl featuring No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama (8:45 p.m.) will take place on New Year’s Day. All New Year’s Six games are on televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes and broadcast on ESPN Radio.

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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