Obscure Bowl Games Draw Higher Ratings Than March Madness

College basketball’s win-or-go-home NCAA Tournament rakes in surprisingly fewer viewers than a string of “meaningless” college football bowl games.

A look at the ratings by Richard Sandomir finds that the least watched NCAA Tournament game, Arizona vs Texas Southern, pulled 501,000 viewers this season. By contrast the least watched NCAA bowl game, the Camellia Bowl, drew 1.1 million.

All this despite the claim that 40 million Americans fill out brackets in anticipation of March Madness. And the bowl game ratings are all the more amazing in that a growing number of Americans have been intensely interested in March Madness, with an ever increasing interest in the basketball tournaments in Las Vegas and office betting pools. Even the president has made the revelation of his bracket a televised tournament tradition.

Further, many of these bowl games are “meaningless” in that they don’t advance any thing other than the joy of the game itself. Teams without winning records even occasionally compete in the ever-increasing number of bowls. So, it is of interest that such creations as the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, and Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl still get such a high number of viewers.

But, Sandomir speculates, maybe this isn’t all so surprising after all.

“Some of the viewership differences between the bowls and the tournament can be attributed to scheduling, matchups and networks carrying games,” he wrote. “It’s easier to find an audience in prime time than in the afternoon. ESPN is more of a sports destination than truTV, which had some of the tournament’s least watched games.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com


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