IRVING, Texas (May 27, 2020) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame highlighted today numerous powerful facts from the 2019-20 college football season that emphasize the strong popularity of college football among millions of fans across the country, including the 56 percent of U.S. adults who cited themselves in a Gallup Poll as college football fans, more than professional baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer. Additionally, excluding the combined numbers for Olympic Sports, college football ranks second in core fans behind only the NFL.
“The 2019 season marked a truly special milestone for our sport as we celebrated our 150th anniversary,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “College football has proven from its earliest days that it has a unique ability to unite people, and in an increasingly fragmented world college football remains one of the most powerful platforms for reaching a mass audience in real time. Whether you’re one of the 47 million attending a football game or the 145 million watching on television, college football creates a powerful vehicle with those unique moments that are quickly disappearing in today’s culture.”
“The networks, as well as the colleges, conferences and bowls, all deserve high praise as innovators who continue to break new ground within an ever-changing high-tech landscape. There is no doubt that college football fans everywhere are the big winners with a wide-range of options to enjoy games, thanks to the creativity and commitment of the leaders of our sport.”
Top Ratings Highlights from the 2019-20 College Football Season:
• The 392 regular season telecasts on ABC, the Big Ten Network, BTN, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, FOX, FS1, NBC and the NFL Network during the 2019season averaged 1,839,000 viewers per game (a 2% increase from 2018) while reaching more than 145 million unique fans.**
• The 38 postseason bowl games on ABC, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, FOX and FS1 at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season averaged 5,037,000 viewers per game (a 1% increase from last season) while reaching 90 million unique fans** on television. (The figures do not include the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl or the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, both telecast on CBSSN, which is not rated by Nielsen Media.)
• ESPN’s networks averaged an audience of 5,736,000 viewers for all its bowl games (36 games), up from last year’s average of 5,728,000, an increase of 8,000 viewers per game.
• The College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship Presented by AT&T between LSU and Clemson delivered cable TV’s best audience in more than two years while notching a total live audience of 27,311,000 viewers, up 332,000 viewers from last season’s Alabama-Clemson CFP National Championship final viewership.
• The CFP Semifinals averaged 21,487,000 viewers (two games), setting a new high for non-New Year’s Day Semifinals and an increase of 8% from last year’s final CFP Semifinal audience.
• CBS Sports scored the Network’s best college football viewership in 29 years, averaging 7,147,000 million viewers, a 25% increase from 2018.
• College Football on FOX had its most-watched regular season ever, bringing in an average audience of 3,729,000, representing a 12% increase over 2018.
• ESPN’s networks increased their audience year-over-year in every category: the regular season, bowl season, the CFP Semifinals, the CFP National Championship and “College GameDay Built by The Home Depot,” which delivered its most-watched season since 2015.
NCAA Programs Draw 47.5 Million Fans to Stadiums during the 2019-20 Season
The 669 NCAA football programs (FBS, FCS, DII, DIII) drew 47,537,702 fans at home, neutral-site and postseason games in 2019, according to the annual NCAA report. The number represents a 1.2 percent increase from the 2018 season, and it represents a 20 percent increase from the 1999 season and a 148.4 percent increase from the 19,134,159 fans that the NCAA reported in 1948* when they first started collecting attendance figures.
The 40 FBS bowl games this season (including the CFP National Championship, but excluding the Celebration Bowl at the FCS level) attracted 1,637,417 spectators to the stands (40,935 per contest) for an increase of 34,799 fans versus those attending bowl games in 2018. The Top Ten bowl games for attendance each attracted more than 55,000 fans, and 11 bowl games saw increases of more than 4,000 fans.
(NCAA attendance includes FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III schools.)
The game has benefited enormously from the commitment of every major media sports outlet, including ABC, ACC Network, Big Ten Network, BYUtv, CBS, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN+, FOX, FS1, FS2, FOX College Sports, FOX Deportes, FOX Sports Net, Longhorn Network, NBC, NBC Sports Network, NFL Network, Pac-12 Networks, SEC Network, Stadium and multiple regional and local outlets. Throughout the regular and bowl seasons, these outlets continue to capitalize on college football’s ever-increasing popularity to produce an increasingly dynamic product that engages fans on new levels.
Regular Season Attendance Highlights
• Overall attendance for NCAA football games across all divisions (FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III) drew 47,537,702 fans at home games, neutral-site games and postseason games in 2019. The number represents a 1.2 percent increase from the 2018 season, and it also represents a 20 percent increase from 1999 season and a 148.4 percent increase from the 19,134,159 fans that the NCAA reported in 1948* when they first started collecting attendance figures.
• The Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) drew 36,831,692 spectators for an average of 41,477 fans per game.
• The Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) pulled in 5,661,059 fans for an average of 7,830 followed by Division II with 2,778,133 for a 3,073 average and Division III with 2,188,349 for a 1,762 average.
• Across all divisions of NCAA play, a total of 552,982 more spectators attended a game in 2019 than 2018.
• The SEC led all FBS conferences in attendance for the 22nd straight year, averaging 72,723 fans per game with a total attendance of 7,417,759, followed by the Big Ten (65,065 avg. & 6,311,298 total), Big 12 (57,467 avg. & 3,792,831 total), ACC (48,243 avg. & 4,486,578 total) and Pac-12 (46,080 avg. & 3,594,265 total).
• Michigan led all FBS schools again with an average attendance of 111,459 fans per home game in 2019. Five other schools also averaged more than 100,000 fans per home game: Penn State (105,678), Ohio State (103,383), Texas A&M (101,608), Alabama (101,117) and LSU (100,842). Rounding out the 2019 Top Ten leaders for average home game attendance were: Texas (96,306), Georgia (92,817), Nebraska (89,348) and Tennessee (87,864). Other universities with more than 80,000 fans per home game included Auburn (85,765), Florida (84,684), Oklahoma (83,256) and Clemson (80,868).
• Michigan has led the nation in attendance for 43 of the past 45 seasons. (The two breaks occurred with a No. 3 ranking in 2014 and No. 2 ranking in 1997.) The Wolverines have now played before 100,000-plus fans for a record 293 straight home games, a streak that extends back to Nov. 8, 1975.
• LSU led the nation for total fan attendance, attracting 1,280,985 spectators to all of their games in 2019, including home, away, neutral and postseason tilts. Twelve other teams eclipsed the million mark in 2019: Ohio State (1,192,291), Alabama (1,173,240), Texas A&M (1,157,835), Michigan (1,152,522), Penn State (1,143,373), Georgia (1,139,382), Clemson (1,071,328), Auburn (1,055,713), Tennessee (1.055,406), Florida (1,026,152), and Wisconsin (1,022,075)
• Nebraska continued its NCAA-record streak of 375 consecutive home sellouts, a stretch that dates back to Nov. 3, 1962, at Memorial Stadium. The stadium has a current capacity of 85,458, and the Huskers averaged 89,348 at its home games during the 2019 season for a total attendance of 625,436 at seven games. Notre Dame held the second longest sellout streak at 273 games, which started in 1974 but ended in 2019 with the Navy game.
• Oklahoma has the second-longest official sellout streak at 129 games, dating back to 1999 and the first year that Bob Stoops led the Sooners.
• Georgia currently boasts a streak fo 52 consecutive sellouts, including seven sellouts in 2018. The Bulldogs’ current record for sellouts stands at 64 from Sept. 1 to Sept. 10, 2011.
• The top 10 FBS schools with the largest increases in attendance all averaged more than 4,300 additional fans per game with Kansas leading the way with 14,451 additional fans at each game, followed by Memphis (8,638), Minnesota (8,275), Virginia (8,158), BYU (7,071), North Carolina (6,878), Cincinnati (5,466), Syracuse (5,121), Coastal Carolina (4,556) and South Carolina (4,334).
• The top 10 FBS schools with the largest percentage increases in attendance included Kansas (74.4%), Coastal Carolina (43.5%), Texas State (30.7%), New Mexico State (30.6%), Memphis (28.6%), Miami [OH] (24.8%), SMU (21.9%), Wyoming (21.9%), Minnesota (21.8%) and UTEP (20.8%).
• BYU’s average attendance for football games increased significantly, drawing an average of 59,457 fans per game, the highest total since 2013 and a jump of more than 7,000 fans per game over 2018
• Jackson State claimed the FCS attendance title for the second year in a row, attracting 168,808 fans for an average of 33,762 fans for the Tigers’ five home games in 2019. Montana, which had claimed the FCS title from 2014-17, came in at second with an average of 22,545 fans for the Grizzlies’ seven home games and 157,812 spectators overall in 2019. James Madison (18,108), Alabama State (17,799) and North Dakota State (17,440) rounded out the top five.
• Morehouse (GA) captured the Division II attendance title for the second consecutive year, attracting a total of 43,697 fans for a 10,924 average per home game. Grand Valley State (MI) with 9,821 landed in the No. 2 spot, followed by Tarleton State (TX) with an average of 8,952. Tuskegee (AL) with 8,872 fans per game and Pittsburg State (KS) with 7,705 fans round the top five Division II schools in 2019.
• Hampden-Sydney (VA) finished first among all Division III programs for a second consecutive year in home attendance, with a total of 34,747 attending five home games for an average of 6,949. Rounding out the top five were Wisconsin-Whitewater with 6,095, St. Thomas (MN) with 5,577, Wesleyan (CT) with 5,047 and Saint John’s (MN) with 5.047 fans per game.
• Ithaca College (NY) and SUNY Cortland (NY) became the most-attended football game in Division III history, with 45,161 fans watching the Ithaca Bombers defeat the Cortland Red Dragons, 32-20, in the 61st Cortaca Jug game, which was played Nov. 16 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
• The Southwestern Athletic Conference earned its 41st FCS attendance title in 42 years, averaging 15,266 fans for a total of 793,835 in 2019.
• The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) netted its 17th straight Division II attendance crown, averaging 5,988 fans and a total attendance of 287,437. The SAIC has led Division II attendance for 27 of the last 28 years.
• The Minnesota Intercollegiate Conference grabbed the top spot for Division III attendance for the 14th time in the last 15 years with an average of 2,709 fans per game and a total attendance of 124,621.
Regular Season Ratings and Digital Highlights
(Overview, followed by networks in alphabetical order)
• The 392 regular season telecasts on ABC, the Big Ten Network, BTN, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, FOX, FS1, NBC and the NFL Network during the 2019 regular season averaged 1,839,000 viewers per game (a 2% increase from 2018) while 14
• The most watched game of the regular season was the Nov. 9 tilt between LSU and Alabama on CBS was with 16,729,000 viewers.
• Top Ten for viewership (P2+) also included LSU-Georgia (Dec. 7 on CBS) with 13,703,000; Ohio State-Wisconsin (Dec. 7 on FOX) with 13,642,000; Ohio State-Michigan (Nov. 30 on FOX) with 12,501,000; Alabama-Auburn (Nov. 30 on CBS) with 11,505,000; Penn State-Ohio State (Nov. 23 on FOX) with 9,425,000; Notre Dame-Georgia (Sept. 21 on CBS) with 9,287,000; Baylor-Oklahoma (Dec. 7 on ABC) with 8,700,000; LSU-Texas (Sept. 7 on ABC) with 8,633,000; and Army-Navy (Dec. 14 on CBS) with 7,716,000 viewers.
• The top five games all eclipsed the 10 million viewer mark and all of the top 12 exceeded seven million viewers each. A total of 33 regular season games had more than five million viewers, seven more than the 2018 season.
• Eight teams played in three or more games ranked in the Top 25 for viewership: Ohio State (6), LSU (5), Auburn (4), Oklahoma (4), Florida (3), Georgia (3), Michigan (3) and Penn State (3).
ABC and ESPN Highlights
• ESPN’s networks averaged 1,742,000 viewers during the telecasts of the 247 regular season games it produced in 2019, or a 6% increase above the 2018 season.
• ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU combined averaged 8.5 million viewers in prime time each week of the college football season, equivalent to having a top ten most-viewed game each week of the season.
• ABC generated an average audience of more than six million viewers for 10 games this season, the most of any network.
• ESPN averaged 1.7 million viewers for 34 games this season.
• ABC and ESPN combined to air 15 of the 30 most-watched games this season, topped by the Big 12 Championship with Baylor vs. Oklahoma delivering 8,700,000 viewers.
• LSU at Texas on Sept. 7 attracted 8,651,000 viewers, placing it in the top five most-watched September games for ABC’s Saturday Night Football since 2008.
• The regular season Oklahoma vs. Baylor match-up drew 6,796,000 viewers, ABC’s best audience for a regular season Big 12 intra-conference game since 2013.
• Penn State at Minnesota garnered 6,754,000 viewers, ABC’s most-watched regular season noon game since 2016.
• Florida at LSU amassed 6,587,000 viewers, making it ESPN’s most-watched game in nearly two years.
• The Miami (FL) vs. Florida game, which was part of CFB150 and a special “Week Zero,” attracted 6,088,000 viewers, ESPN’s best viewership ever to start a season and the network’s highest-rated college football game in nearly three years.
• The Pac-12 Championship between Utah and Oregon (Dec. 6 on ABC) drew 5,856,000 viewers, making it the Pac-12’s most-watched championship game since 2014 and the annual game’s second-best audience in its nine-year history.
• “ESPN College Football 150” programming was consumed by 19 million unique fans on Saturday, Aug. 24, as the network’s storytelling initiative ramped up with 12 hours of content during a signature start to the sport’s 150th anniversary season.
• ESPN’s “College GameDay Built by The Home Depot” averaged 1,956,000 viewers per show, a 3% increase from 2018, reaching nearly 35,900,000 during the season. It was the show’s most-watched season since 2015 and the second-best viewership since the show expanded to three hours in 2013.
• ESPN’s College Football Playoff: Top 25 on Tuesdays averaged 1,276,000 viewers over its five episodes, a 6% increase year-over-year from the same five shows in 2018.
• College Football on ESPN+, which featured 379 live college games during the 2019 season, saw a 132% spike in time spent by fans watching live games on the app.
• CBS Sports scored the Network’s best college football viewership in 29 years, averaging 7,147,000 viewers, a 25% increase from 2018.
• The SEC ON CBS was the highest-rated regular-season college football package on any network for the 11th consecutive year, averaging a household rating/share of 4.2/11 with a 24% increase from the 2018 season.
• CBS Sports notched the top-two games and five-of-the-top-10 games for viewership during the 2019 regular season, including LSU vs. Alabama (16,729,000); the SEC Championship with LSU vs. Georgia (13,703,000); Alabama vs. Auburn (11,505,000); Notre Dame vs. Georgia (9,287, 000); and Army vs. Navy (7,716,000).
• CBS Sports’ coverage of the LSU-Alabama game delivered a 9.7 rating, making it the highest-rated regular-season college football game (excluding Conference Championships) on any network in eight years and the most-watched regular-season game between the teams since 2011. The 16,729,000 viewers represented a 44% increase versus last year’s primetime game.
• The Notre Dame at Georgia game was the highest-rated college football game on CBS in the month of September in six years with a 6.2/13 HH rating.
• CBS Sports’ coverage of Georgia vs. Florida garnered 6,978,000 viewers, making it the most most-watched meeting between the teams in 32 years and delivering a 10% increase in viewership versus last year.
• College football on FOX had its most-watched regular season ever, bringing in an average audience of 3,729,000, representing a 12% increase over 2018.
• FOX Sports notched two of the top-five games and three-of-the-top-10 games for viewership during the 2019 regular season, including the Big Ten Championship with Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (13,642,000); Ohio State vs. Michigan (12,501,000); and Penn State vs. Ohio State (9,425,000).
• FOX Sports coverage of Ohio State’s victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship was the most-watched Big Ten Championship in six years and the most-watched FOX College Football game this season with 13,642,000 viewers, representing a 56% increase over last season’s game between Ohio State and Northwestern. It also was FOX Sports’ most-streamed college football game ever.
• FOX’s telecast of Oklahoma’s 34-27 win over Texas in the Red River Showdown pulled in 7,252,000 viewers, the rivalry game’s best television performance since 2009 and the network’s fifth most-watched regular-season college football game all-time.
• FOX’s BIG NOON SATURDAY matchups averaged 5,103,000 viewers each week, led by a regular-season high of 12,501,000 tuning in for Ohio State’s victory over Michigan in Week 14.
• FOX Sport’s BIG NOON KICKOFF pregame show averaged 1,205,000 viewers per episode, a 22% increase over last year’s pregame show, and viewership grew by 233% from Week 1 to Week 14.
• NBC carried seven Notre Dame games averaging 2,131,000 viewers per game.
• The top-three Notre Dame games on NBC all exceeded 2.5 million viewers: USC (3,161,000), Virginia Tech (2,952,000) and Virginia (2,815,000).
The Big Ten Network Highlights
• The Big Ten Network produced eight games that exceeded one million viewers.
• The Big Ten Network game between Ohio State and Northwestern marked the high-water mark for the outlet in 2019, attracting 1,665,000 viewers and notching the outlet’s fourth-most watched game average in its history.
• The Big Ten Network game between Iowa and Nebraska ranked as the second most viewed game for the outlet, drawing 1,451,000 viewers.
Postseason Attendance Highlights
• A total of 1,637,417 fans attended the 40 FBS postseason games this season, including the CFP title game, averaging 40,935 spectators per game. A total of 34,799 more people attended bowls in 2019-20 than the 39 bowl games played last season. (The 2018 SERVPRO First Responder Bowl between Boston College and Boise State was cancelled due to bad weather.)
• The Top Ten bowls for attendance all attracted more than 55,000 fans: Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual (90,462); Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl – CFP Semifinal (78,347); CFP National Championship (76,885); PlayStation Fiesta Bowl – CFP Semifinal (71,330); Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl (68,415); Capital One Orange Bowl (65,326); TaxSlayer Gator Bowl (61,789); Valero Alamo Bowl (60,147); VRBO Citrus Bowl (59,746); and Allstate Sugar Bowl (55,211).
• Ten bowl games saw increases of more than 4,000 fans over last year’s games: TaxSlayer Gator Bowl (23,583); Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (19,404); Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl (17,311); PlayStation Fiesta Bowl – CFP Semifinal (14,084); Quick Lane Bowl (7,537); Camping World Bowl (5,823); Walk-On’s Independence Bowl (5,637); Outback Bowl (5,134); NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl (4,524); and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl – CFP Semifinal (4,341).
• Stadiums hosting bowl games were at 74.68% of capacity, according to the Football Bowl Association.
• The Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual, which has led all bowls in attendance every year since 1945 (excluding title games), attracted 90,462 spectators, again the most of any bowl game.
• The CFP Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl with 71,330 fans tallied its highest attendance since 2010 and an increase of 14,084 fans over last year’s non-semifinal game.
• The CFP Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl set a Mercedes-Benz Stadium attendance record with a crowd of 78,347 and has notched 21 sellouts during the last 23 years with 3.1 million attending the game since 1968.
• The Valero Alamo Bowl drew a crowd of 60,147, the third highest total of the non-CFP games and more than two CFP games. For the first six years of the Valero Alamo Bowl’s Big 12 #1 vs. Pac-12 #1 matchup, the game has averaged 93% capacity attendances.
• The San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl attracted 50,123 fans, marking the largest attendance since the 2016 game.
• The Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl had an attendance of 42,412 fans, marking the 36th time out of the last 37 years the attendance has exceeded 40,000.
• The Cheez-It Bowl attracted 34,105 fans, its highest attendance since 2016 and a 3% increase from 2018.
• The Walk-On’s Independence Bowl saw an attendance increase of 21 percent with 33,129 fans up from 27,492 in 2018. (Radiance Technologies will be the new title sponsor for the game in 2020.)
• The Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl set an attendance record with 33,539 fans for the UCF-Marshall game or 19,404 more spectators than attended the game in 2018.
• The Quick Lane Bowl had its biggest attendance to date with 34,765 at Ford Field in Detroit.
• The Division I FCS Championship playoffs attracted 194,388 fans for an average of 8,452 spectators over 23 games for an increase of 4.5% in attendance over last year.
• The FCS National Championship Game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, attracted 17,866 fans to watch North Dakota State beat James Madison, 28-20.
• The Division II Championship playoffs attracted 70,890 fans for an average of 2,626 spectators over 27 games for an increase of 6.35% in attendance over last season.
• The Division II Championship Game at McKinney ISD Stadium in McKinney, Texas, attracted 3,415 fans to see West Florida claim a 48-40 victory over Minnesota State.
• The Division III Championship playoffs attracted 53,087 fans for a 1,712 average over 31 games.
• The NCAA Division III National Championship Game attracted a crowd of 1,362 fans to watch North Central (IL) beat Wisconsin-Whitewater, 24-16, at the Stagg Bowl in Shenandoah, Texas.
Postseason Ratings and Digital Highlights
• The 38 postseason bowl games on ABC, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, FOX, FS1 at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season averaged 5,037,000 viewers per game (a 1% increase from last season) while reaching 90 million unique fans** on television. (The figures do not include the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl or the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, both telecast on CBSSN, which is not rated by Nielsen Media.)
• ESPN’s networks averaged an audience of 5,736,000 viewers for all its bowl games (36 games), up from last year’s average of 5,728,000, an increase of8,000 viewers per game.
• The CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T between LSU and Clemson delivered cable TV’s best audience in more than two years while notching a total live audience of 27,311,000 viewers, up 332,000 viewers from the last season’s Alabama-Clemson CFP National Championship final viewership.
• Nearly 47 million fans (46,906,000) watched a portion of The CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T between LSU and Clemson, 883,000 more fans than last year’s Clemson-Alabama contest (46,023,000 fans).
• ESPN’s studio presence in New Orleans (January 10-13) reached 37,050,000 fans leading into the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T on Jan. 13 with multiple shows seeing year-over-year audience increases.
• The CFP Semifinals averaged 21,487,000 viewers (two games), setting a new high for non-New Year’s Day Semifinals and an increase of 8% from last year’s final CFP Semifinal audience.
• The CFP Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl featuring Clemson-Ohio State attracted a total live audience of 23,484,000 viewers, making it the most-watched non-New Year’s Day Semifinal ever.
• The CFP Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl between LSU and Oklahoma notched a total live audience of 19,269,000 viewers.
• The two CFP Semifinal games were both up year-over-year from the CFP Semifinals in the 2018 season, with Clemson-Ohio State delivering a 12% increase in primetime and LSU-Oklahoma registering a 2% increase.
• The non-New Year’s Six Bowl games on ESPN averaged 3,104,000 viewers, up 3% from last year.
• The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual featuring Oregon vs. Wisconsin on Jan. 1 generated a multi-network audience of 16,304,000 viewers, the second most-watched non-Semifinal New Year’s Six game in the College Football Playoff era.
• The Vrbo Citrus Bowl, between Michigan and Alabama on Jan. 1, generated an audience of 14,003,000 viewers, marking ABC’s most-watched bowl game since the 2010 National Championship. It was the bowl’s fourth-highest audience dating back to at least the 1991 season and its best since the 2008 season.
• The Allstate Sugar Bowl between Georgia and Baylor on Jan. 1 recorded an audience of 10,224,000 viewers, out delivering the 2017 Sugar Bowl (Oklahoma vs. Auburn) to become the second most-watched non-Semifinal Sugar Bowl of the College Football Playoff era.
• The Valero Alamo Bowl attracted 5,608,490 viewers, making it the second most-watched non-CFP game in 2019 and the eighth most-watched Valero Alamo Bowl of all-time.
• The Quick Lane Bowl viewership increased by 12% over last year’s game, attracting a total live audience of 3,348,317.
• The Walk-On’s Independence Bowl attracted a total live audience of 2,772,000 – up from 2,038,000 in 2018, a 36% increase.
• The San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl notched the third largest viewership (2,517,883) ever for a college football game on FS1 and the largest for a college football game on FS1 since October 2016.
Notable Bowl Facts and Postseason Milestones
• The FBS postseason featured 40 games, including the CFP National Championship, with 78 teams competing. The ACC led all conferences with 11 appearances, and the SEC amassed the most wins bringing home eight trophies.
• En route to the national title, LSU went 15-0 for the first time in school historyand is just the second team in FBS history to go 15-0 in a season. Seven of LSU’s 15 wins came against teams ranked in the Top 10, the most of any team in college football history. LSU has now claimed the NFF MacArthur Bowl national championship trophy three times.
• LSU QB Joe Burrow set multiple records in a CFP title game, including passing for 463 yards and five touchdowns and six total TDs as he rushed for another score.
• During halftime of the CFP title game, the top 11 players on the College Football 150 Greatest Players list were honored during a ceremony as part of the CFB150 celebration. The 11 players, all members of the College Football Hall of Fame, included Jim Brown (Syracuse), Herschel Walker (Georgia), Bo Jackson (Auburn), Archie Griffin (Ohio State, also a member of the NFF Board), Jim Thorpe (Carlisle), Red Grange (Illinois), Earl Campbell (Texas), Dick Butkus (Illinois), Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State), Gale Sayers (Kansas), and Roger Staubach (Navy, also a member of the NFF Board).
• The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl hosted the 15th Annual NFF National Hall of Fame Salute, featuring members of the 2019 College Football Hall of Fame Class.
• Six of the 12 members of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class guided their teams to an FBS bowl game in 2019: Rodrigo Blankenship (Georgia in Allstate Sugar Bowl), Jordan Fuller (Ohio State in CFP Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl), Justin Herbert (Oregon and recipient of the 2019 Campbell Trophy® Presented by Mazda in Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual), Adam Holtorf (Kansas State in AutoZone Liberty Bowl), Jordan Mack (Virginia in Capital One Orange Bowl), Jon Wassink (Western Michigan in Servpro First Responder Bowl). At the divisional level, Minnesota State linebacker Alex Goettl led his team to the Division II National Championship Game, and Montana linebacker Dante Olson guided his team to the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs.
• Alabama has played in the postseason a record 67 times and a record 71 games.
• Virginia Tech played in a bowl game for the 27th consecutive year, the longest current streak in the nation, which started in 1993 and ranks as the third longest all-time bowl appearance record in history, trailing only Nebraska (35) and Michigan (33).
• The Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl aired on CBS for the 52nd consecutive season, the longest continuous relationship between a bowl game and one TV network. The game featured Arizona State and Florida State, and CBS aired a halftime segment on the recipient of the 2019 William V. Campbell Trophy® Presented by Mazda, Justin Herbert (Oregon).
• The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl between Buffalo and Charlotte notched the sixth edition of the game, making it the longest-running international bowl game in FBS history. The game also marked Buffalo’s first victory in a bowl game and Charlotte’s first bowl appearance.
• Kent State won its first bowl game in school history with a 51-41 victory over Utah State in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl, finishing with seven wins on the season for the first time since 2012.
• The Outback Bowl boasts the longest title sponsor in bowl game history with Outback Steakhouse entering its 26th year with the game
• The Rose Bowl Game inducted Eddie Casey (Harvard), Cornelius Greene (Ohio State), Matt Leinart (USC) and Jacque Robinson (Washington) into their Hall of Fame. They also recognized the 100th anniversary of Harvard’s Rose Bowl team.
• The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic between Penn State and Memphis saw several records set, including most combined points (92) and second-most yards (1,071) in Cotton Bowl history. Penn State’s seven total touchdowns tied another mark for the game.
• With a win in the Cheez-It Bowl, Air Force completed an 11-2 season for its most wins since 1998 and second-most ever.
• Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo became the winningest coach in the history of the Army-Navy series with nine, surpassing College Football Hall of Fame Coach Earl Blaik who went 8-8-2 at Army from 1941-1958.
• During the Army-Navy game, Midshipmen WR Malcolm Perry surpassed College Football Hall of Famer Napoleon McCallum’s record to set Navy’s single-season rushing mark with 1,804 yards. McCallum held the record since 1983 with 1,587 yards.
• North Dakota State won its eighth FCS national championship in nine years with a 28-20 victory over James Madison on Jan. 11 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. The title gave North Dakota State its 16th football national championship overall since 1965, including a record eight at the FCS level.
• West Florida became the first team to ever win four road games en route to claiming the NCAA Division II National Championship. The Argonauts beat Minnesota State, 48-40, Dec. 21 in McKinney, Texas, bringing home the national title just four short years since the program’s inception in 2016.
• North Central (IL) notched a 41-14 victory over the Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks at the Stagg Bowl in Shenandoah, Texas, Dec. 20 to win the 2019 Division III football national championship for their first title in program history.
Examples of Bowl Economic and Community Impact
• Through funds derived from the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge charity golf tournament, the Peach Bowl has distributed nearly $21 million since 2002 in charity and scholarship contributions to organizations in need, benefiting more than 70 different organizations in Atlanta and partner team and conference communities.
• The Allstate Sugar Bowl’s annual slate of activities created more than $200 million in economic impact to Louisiana last year. In addition, the Sugar Bowl spearheaded New Orleans’ hosting of the 2020 College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship. As part of that event, the Sugar Bowl and the CFP have been working together on a multi-million-dollar project focused on supporting teachers in New Orleans Public Schools.
• The Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game annually produce nearly $200 million in economic impact in Southern California. The events generated 93,300 incremental hotel room nights throughout the region.
• The Orange Bowl Festival, including the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital Orange Bowl, in the past has generated an estimated $261.4 million in new economic impact and media exposure value for South Florida. The game attracts approximately 67,050 visitors to the area, including 88% of the game attendees from outside of South Florida. The organization’s many civic activities include hosting the Annual NFF Orange Bowl Florida High School Football Showcase, Presented by Cleveland Clinic Florida, for the past four seasons.
• The Fiesta Bowl has donated $4 million to Arizona nonprofits in 2019-20, including $1 million for COVID-19 emergency relief, and $11 million over the past four years.
• The Cotton Bowl Foundation distributed $250,000, plus matching grants of $100,000 by the College Football Playoff Foundation, to underserved neighborhoods across North Texas.
• The Outback Bowl has contributed over $155 million to universities over its history and is estimated to have generated more than $1 billion in economic impact for the Tampa Bay area over this time. It has also contributed more than $2 million to charities since 2016 and has committed to donating at least $2.5 million more to charities through the 2026 game.
• The Valero Alamo Bowl scholarship programs will award $1 million between 139 students representing every San Antonio area high school and four-year university, making it the largest local scholarship total among all the bowl games.
• The San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl produced an economic impact of $27.6 million for the San Diego region, the second largest figure in the last five years.
• The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl produced $16.7 million direct economic impact in 2019.
• The Hawai’i Bowl Foundation in conjunction with the College Football Playoff Foundation, The Mountain West and SoFi donated $30,000 to Teach For America – Hawai’i to assist Hawai’i Teachers. The foundation also granted another $105,000 to local charities.
• The Quick Lane Bowl partnered with the Gleaners Community Food Bank to deliver food to 10,996 families.
2019-20 Chronological Bowl Results
Bowl Result. (Attendance) & [US HH coverage rating] & [Household Impressions] & [Viewers (P2+)]
(Numbers in this section are Nielsen’s Live + Same Day data stream)
• Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, ESPN: Buffalo 31-9 over Charlotte. (13,547) & [0.55] & [665,000] & [761,000]
• Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl, ESPN2: Kent State 51-41 over Utah State. (12,120) & [0.78] & [936,000] & [1,263,000]
• Celebration Bowl, ABC: North Carolina A&T 64-44 over Alcorn State. (32,968) & [1.23] & [1,484,000] & [1,806,000]
• New Mexico Bowl, ESPN: San Diego State 48-11 over Central Michigan. (18,823) & [0.49] & [595,000] & [810,000]
• FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl, CBSSN: Liberty 23-16 over Georgia Southern. (18,158) [N/A] & [N/A] & [N/A]
• Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl, ABC: Florida Atlantic 52-28 over SMU. (23,187) & [1.29] & [1,550,000] & [1,991,000]
• Camellia Bowl, ESPN: Arkansas State 34-26 over Florida International. (16,209) & [0.43] & [515,000] & [698,000]
• Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl, ABC: Washington 38-7 over Boise State. (34,197) & [1.59] & [1,912,000] & [2,639,000]
• R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, ESPN: Appalachian State 31-17 over UAB. (21,202) & [0.59] & [716,000] & [973,000]
• Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, ESPN: UCF 48-25 over Marshall. (33,539) & [0.76] & [919,000] & [1,154,000]
• SoFi Hawai’i Bowl, ESPN: Hawai’i 38-34 over BYU. (21,582) & [1.40] & [1,688,000] & [2,430,000]
• Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, ESPN: Louisiana Tech 14-0 over Miami (FL). (33,129) & [1.44] & [1,741,000] & [2,365,000]
• Quick Lane Bowl, ESPN: Pittsburgh 34-30 over Eastern Michigan. (34,765) & [1.81] & [2,178,000] & [3,045,000]
• Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman, ESPN: North Carolina 55-13 over Temple. (24,242) & [1.34] & [1,622,000] & [2,110,000]
• New Era Pinstripe Bowl, ESPN: Michigan State 27-21 over Wake Forest. (36,895) & [2.28] & [2,754,000] & [3,848,000]
• Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl, ESPN: Texas A&M 24-21 over Oklahoma State. (68,415) & [2.79] & [3,365,000] & [4,953,000]
• San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, FS1: Iowa 49-24 over USC. (50,123) & [1.32] & [1,586,000] & [2,518,000]
• Cheez-It Bowl, ESPN: Air Force 31-21 over Washington State. (34,105) & [1.57] & [1,895,000] & [2,651,000]
• Camping World Bowl, ABC: Notre Dame 33-9 over Iowa State. (46,948) & [2.65] & [3,193,000] & [4,170,000]
• Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, ESPN: Penn State 53-39 over Memphis. (54,828) & [3.80] & [4,582,000] & [6,297,000]
• College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, ESPN: Clemson 29-23 over Ohio State. (71,330) & [10.61] & [12,800,000] & [20,758,000]
• College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, ESPN: LSU 63-28 over Oklahoma. (78,347) & [9.05] & [10,911,000] & [16,728,000]
• SERVPRO First Responder Bowl, ESPN: Western Kentucky 23-20 over Western Michigan. (13,164) & [0.88] & [1,060,000] & [1,289,000]
• Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, ESPN: Louisville 38-28 over Mississippi State. (46,850) & [1.44] & [1,734,000] & [2,203,000]
• Redbox Bowl, FOX: California 35-20 over Illinois. (34,177) & [1.25] & [1,506,000] & [1,868,000]
• Capital One Orange Bowl, ESPN: Florida 36-28 over Virginia. (65,326) & [3.46] & [4,173,000] & [6,068,000]
• Belk Bowl, ESPN: Kentucky 37-30 over Virginia Tech. (44,138) & [1.74] & [2,101,000] & [2,624,000]
• Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl, CBS: Arizona State 20-14 over Florida State. (42,412) & [2.14] & [2,581,000] & [3,166,000]
• AutoZone Liberty Bowl, ESPN: Navy 20-17 over Kansas State 17. (50,515) & [2.14] & [2,580,000] & [3,326,000]
• NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, CBSSN: Wyoming 38-17 over Georgia State. (36,892) & [N/A] & [N/A] & [N/A]
• Valero Alamo Bowl, ESPN: Texas 38-10 over Utah. (60,147) & [3.14] & [3,789,000] & [5,608,000]
• Vrbo Citrus Bowl, ABC: Alabama 35-16 over Michigan. (59,746) & [7.99] & [9,639,000] & [14,000,000]
• Outback Bowl, ESPN: Minnesota 31-24 over Auburn. (45,652) & [2.38] & [2,865,000] & [3,985,000]
• Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual, ESPN: Oregon 28-27 over Wisconsin. (90,462) & [8.35] & [10,075,000] & [15,698,000]
• Allstate Sugar Bowl, ESPN: Georgia 26-14 over Baylor. (55,211) & [5.50] & [6,632,000] & [9,915,000]
• TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl, ESPN: Cincinnati 38-6 over Boston College. (27,193) & [1.03] & [1,241,000] & [1,518,000]
• TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, ESPN: Tennessee 23-22 over Indiana. (61,789) & [2.57] & [3,097,000] & [4,317,000]
• Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, ESPN: Ohio 30-21 over Nevada. (13,611) & [0.91] & [1,096,000] & [1,361,000]
• Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, ESPN: Tulane 30-13 over Southern Mississippi. (38,513) & [1.16] & [1,399,000] & [1,735,000]
• LendingTree Bowl, ESPN: Louisiana 27-17 over Miami (OH). (29,212) & [0.93] & [1,121,000] & [1,462,000]
• College Football Playoff National Championship, ESPN: LSU 42-25 over Clemson. (76,885) & [13.89] & [16,746,000] & [25,004,000]
The NFF would like to thank the following people for providing information for this release, including NFF Correspondent Bo Carter, CBS’s Jennifer Sabatelle, CBS’s Randall Liu, ESPN’s Keri Potts, ESPN’s Derek Volner, Football Bowl Association’s Doug Kelly, FOX’s Valerie Krebs, NBC’s Chris Mccloskey, and the NCAA’s Jeff Williams.
Information for this release was compiled from Nielsen Ratings Reports, CBS, ESPN, FOX Sports, NBC, the NCAA, Pac-12 Networks, Sports Media Watch, and releases from bowl games and football-playing conferences, universities and colleges.
* The NCAA began keeping national home football attendance in 1948 (including non-NCAA teams) and started keeping NCAA-only teams in 1978.
** Reach measures the number of “unique” (or different) individuals who were exposed to college football during the season, providing an unduplicated view of the TV audience for a sports property.
1 The figures for “Total Live Audience” expand the number of viewers from traditional broadcast, cable and satellite TV to count those watching through other devices and services, including streaming, OTT (over-the-top), mobile apps, multichannel distributors, and out-of-home co-viewing such as restaurants and gyms. Nielsen Media started providing “Total Live Audience” numbers in the fall of 2016, and ESPN started using numbers from the new system on Sept. 26 2017.
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