The Discover Orange Bowl, last night’s decisive 40-12 victory by Stanford over Virginia Tech, earned a 7.1 overnight rating, the third highest for college football in ESPN history, according to Nielsen. ESPN’s three BCS telecasts have each cracked the top five; the top two remain The Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO on January 1 (11.7) and the USC-Ohio State contest on September 12, 2009 (7.2).
The 7.1 overnight rating – which only represents television viewership – marks a 20 percent increase over the 5.9 two years ago (Virginia Tech 20, Cincinnati 7). The 2011 overnight rating is down just one percent from the 7.2 for last year’s Orange Bowl (Iowa 24, Georgia Tech 14).
On ESPN3.com, the game was watched by more than 182,000 unique viewers for a total of more 10.2 million total minutes consumed, an average of 56 minutes per viewer. In terms of unique viewers, the game ranks third all time for college football games on ESPN3.com.
Across ESPN’s digital platforms (ESPN.com, ESPN Mobile Web & ScoreCenter App, and ESPN3.com), January 3 saw 88.8 million total minutes of usage and nearly 62,000 users per minute. The day’s results are highlighted by ESPN.com’s 14.1 million visits, 33.3 million page views and 61.3 million total minutes to college football content, increases of 18 percent, 23 percent and 21 percent, respectively from the same Monday in 2010. Additionally, college football content on the ESPN Mobile Web generated 5.5 million visits (up 66 percent), 11.1 million page views (up 50 percent) and 16 million total minutes (up 72 percent). For the 2010-11 bowl season to date, fans have enjoyed 1.8 million hours of action on ESPN3.com, an increase of 149 percent from last year.
Monday’s game drew large television audiences in particular markets, led by Richmond-Petersburg (16.7), Birmingham (15.6), Norfolk (15.6) and Columbus (13.6).
ESPN & the BCS
ESPN’s first year of exclusive coverage of the five BCS matchups will continue tonight, Tuesday, Jan. 4, with the Allstate Sugar Bowl between Ohio State and Arkansas and will climax with Auburn and Oregon meeting in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game from Glendale, Ariz., on Monday, Jan. 10. Overall, ESPN, ESPN Radio and ESPN3.com will present all five BCS Bowl games and ESPN 3D is providing exclusive 3D coverage of two BCS contests (Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and Tostitos BCS National Championship Game).
In addition, ESPN is providing extensive on-site studio programming and reports across multiple shows and platforms, dedicated web pages for each bowl, re-airs of classic BCS games, international telecasts of all five games, encore presentations of the National Championship and more.
ESPN’s year-round commitment to college football includes more than 400 games, culminating with 33 bowls, and approximately 200 million people tuned in to college football 2010 regular-season coverage on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.