New Year’s Six Delivers Multi-Year Viewership Highs, Second-Most-Watched Non-Semifinal Rose Bowl Game of College Football Playoff Era

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New Year’s Six Delivers Multi-Year Viewership Highs, Second-Most-Watched Non-Semifinal Rose Bowl Game of College Football Playoff Era

  • New Year’s Six Bowls Up 15 Percent Over 2020
  • Non-Semifinal NY6 Bowls Average 10.7M Viewers, Up 47 Percent Year-Over-Year and Nine Percent from 2019; Third Best Non-Semifinal NY6 on Record

The 2021 New Year’s Six delivered viewership records and multi-year audience highs from Dec. 30 – Jan. 1. This year’s New Year’s Six finished up double digits year-over-year, averaging 12.7 million viewers, and every bowl of the 2021 New Year’s Six surpassed 7.5 million viewers for just the third time of the CFP era. The non-Semifinal New Year’s Six bowls averaged nearly 11 million viewers, ranking third out of the eight years of the CFP.

Across both of ESPN’s MegaCast presentations, the College Football Playoff Semifinals averaged 16.9 million viewers, on par with 2015’s Year 2 – the last time the semifinals were on a weekday New Year’s Eve. The share of TV viewers tuned in to this year’s CFP Semifinals on ESPN networks (25.9) was the best since Year 1 (2014) of the CFP era.

The College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl between Georgia and Michigan netted 17.2 million viewers, peaking with 20.5 million viewers early in the action. The late Semifinal is the most-viewed non-NFL sporting event across any network, and top telecast across ABC and ESPN networks since last year’s CFP National Championship game. The top four non-NFL sporting events of 2021 were CFP Semifinal and National Championship games.

The College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic between Cincinnati and Alabama scored 16.6 million viewers, a six percent gain from Year 2’s early Semifinal (2015 Oklahoma/Clemson). Despite the scoring margin, the audience peaked with 18.2 million viewers late in the game.

Rest of New Year’s Six Notches Ratings Records
The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Capital One Venture X registered 16.6 million viewers, the second-most-viewed non-Semifinal New Year’s Six bowl game of the CFP era (2019 Washington/Ohio State, 16.9 million viewers). The audience tuning in to No. 11 Utah and No. 6 Ohio State peaked at 19.7 million viewers over the game’s closing minutes.

The CFP Semifinals and the Rose Bowl Game are the top three games of the college football season.

Additional New Year’s Six Highlights:

  • The Allstate Sugar Bowl between No. 7 Baylor and No. 8 Ole Miss averaged 9.8 million viewers, peaking early in the action with 13.6 million viewers.
  • The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl between No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 5 Notre Dame registered 8.0 million viewers, up nearly 20 percent from the 2020 Fiesta Bowl. The audience peaked with 14.3 million viewers in the final moments.
  • The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl recorded 7.6 million viewers, up more than 25 percent from the past two standalone weekday primetime games (31 percent – 2020 Cotton Bowl; 26 percent – 2019 Orange Bowl). The action from Atlanta peaked with 8.7 million viewers in the final 10 minutes of play between Pittsburgh and Michigan State.
  • The 2021 New Year’s Six finished on par with the 2019 season.

Additional Holiday Week Highlights:

  • The TransPerfect Music City Bowl recorded 5.6 million viewers, the most-viewed non-New Year’s Six bowl this season and the third-most-viewed non-New Year’s Six bowl game in the past six seasons. The matchup between Tennessee and Purdue was the most-watched Music City Bowl since 2010, and the audience peaked with 8.9 million viewers the final 15 minutes.
  • The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl featuring Wisconsin and Arizona State registered 3.7 million viewers, up from the last two Las Vegas Bowls that both aired on ABC
  • The Duke’s Mayo Bowl, highlighted by the clash of the Carolinas and a victory mayo bath, netted 2.6 million viewers to start the morning on Thursday, Dec. 30.
  • Across Thursday’s four bowl games, ESPN averaged 4.9 million viewers

Amanda Brooks

Amanda is the Communications Manager for ESPN College Football and SEC Network, and oversees publicity for college gymnastics and track & field across all ESPN networks. Amanda is a proud alum of Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., and earned her master's in ethics from Vanderbilt University. A native of Kent, Ohio, she is a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan.
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