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Hot Reads: Bowl Game Attendance Roundup

January 4, 2017
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Another year of bowl games have come and gone, which means it's time to evaluate just how the 2016 games stacked up against 2015. With so much emphasis on the TV audience, it's no surprise that physical attendance was down year-over-year, but by how much? The Orlando Sentinel got the numbers, which are estimated right around a 5 percent drop.

Per the Orlando Sentinel:

"More than 1.635 million people attended bowl games this postseason, with an average of 40,892 spectators at each game – down around 5 percent from the previous season’s average of 43,002 – based on numbers provided by the Football Bowl Association."

While attendance was down overall, 20 of the 40 games had higher attendance. That included the Music City Bowl, which saw a nice increase of nearly 18,000 from 2015 to 2016. Last year's matchup between Texas A&M and Louisville drew 50,478, while this year's matchup between Nebraska and Tennessee drew 68,496.

Other bowl games that saw an increase in attendance included the two College Football Playoff semifinals and the Rose Bowl. Some of the bigger decreases in attendance included the Las Vegas Bowl between Houston and San Diego State (down 12,927), the Quick Lane Bowl between Maryland and Boston College (down 15,100), the Birmingham Bowl between USF and South Carolina (down 28,201) and the Cotton Bowl between Western Michigan and Wisconsin (down 23,197).

As for the TV audience, there was a slight increase in viewership for the playoff semifinals this year. After viewership plunged 34 percent from the first year to the second, seeing an increase was exactly what was needed, per MLive.com.

"It's nice to know that more people watched the semifinals this year than last year," said Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff. "Nice to know that the format change we made last year -- that the semifinals will be either on a Saturday or national holiday -- will allow more people to watch the games."

What does this all mean for the future of bowl games? It's tough to say, but some people think there might be changes coming. What could those changes look like? It ultimately depends on the goals of the bowl games and what they mean for each university and its athletes. Those questions will be answered in time, but likely not by 2017 to make much of a difference in the current setup.

Until then, might as well sit back and enjoy the countless bowl games (whether that's at home or on TV).

The Grab Bag


>> Fresh off a Music City Bowl win, Tennessee's offensive coordinator Mike DeBord is departing the Vols and heading to Indiana.

>> Looking for a primer for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl? We've got one on Hail Varsity Premium.

>> Headed to Tampa by chance to the national championship game? Sounds like you're in for a party.

>> Who handles the organization of all the bands, mascots and more for the College Football Playoff? Meet Laila Brock.

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