Mar 04, 2010

Capital One Bowl, ESPN Ink New Deal

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Florida Citrus Sports Chief Executive Officer Steve Hogan has announced that the Capital One Bowl has signed an agreement with ESPN that will have the game’s television rights secured through 2018.

The Capital One Bowl will continue to match the first non-Bowl Championship Series selection from the powerhouse Southeastern and Big Ten conferences on New Year’s Day, and extends its relationship with ESPN and ABC which began in 1987.  The 2011 game will move from ABC to ESPN and kick off at 1:00 p.m., but the new agreement gives ESPN the flexibility to kick the game off between Noon and 1:30 p.m. in future years. The event may also be simulcast on ESPN360.com and ESPN Mobile TV.

The 2011 Capital One Bowl will kick off an ESPN triple-header on Saturday, January 1, as it will be followed on the all-sports network by the Rose Bowl and Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.  The Capital One Bowl joins all five of the BCS bowls now airing exclusively on the network (Allstate Sugar, Orange and BCS Championship game all air on the network on different dates), a first for ESPN.

“We are excited to move to ESPN with the BCS games while continuing to serve as the lead into the Rose Bowl,” said Hogan. “The end of this new agreement will mark over 30 years together and I can’t think of a better partner to have spent it with than ESPN.”

Aside from the length of the agreement, one key component is that the bowl retains the right to compete for a spot in the BCS, should one become available during the term.

Already the industry leader with average annual team compensation totaling over $9.4 million, the Capital One Bowl maintained its standing as the top non-BCS game in terms of payout and national interest in 2009-10.  Its 11.6 million viewers continued an impressive historical run in the television ratings department.  Since moving to a major network 26 years ago (1984), the bowl has averaged an amazing 7.7 rating.

“The Capital One Bowl has proven itself to be a fan favorite and has consistently been one of the most watched bowl games year after year,” said Bill McDonald, Chief Marketing Officer at Capital One. “We feel right at home among the top tier bowl games.”

The New Year’s Day Capital One Bowl matchup between Penn State and LSU drew 63,025 fans this year, an improvement of over 3,500 in a year of economic challenges.  The big-name matchup also produced a spike in television ratings as the game posted a 6.8 rating, again tops among non-BCS games.  It marks the third consecutive year the Capital One Bowl bested at least one Bowl Championship Series game in ratings, and it is the only non-BCS game to finish in the Top 5 in ratings in any of those three years, much less three straight.

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