The Heart of Dallas Bowl turned out to be a nice win for the Utah Utes and a not-so-great experience for viewers. And not just for West Virginia fans, who saw their team lose 30-14 in a game that wasn’t really that close.
It was dull. I blame the Mountaineers, who were utterly inept on offense.
Despite that, the numbers for the Heart of Dallas Bowl were pretty good. According to ESPN, 2.2 million viewers tuned in, a 36 percent increase over Army-North Texas (1.6 million) in 2016.
That’s a fraction of the audience for Big Bowls (11.73 million viewers for Wisconsin-Miami/Orange, 10.2 million for Penn State-Washington/Fiesta, 9.5 million for Ohio State-USC/Cotton). (We don’t have Rose or Sugar numbers as of this writing.)
But the H of D Bowl was kind of in the middle of the pre-New Year’s weekend games — fewer than TCU-Stanford/Alamo (4.3 million), Oklahoma State-Virginia Tech/Camping World (4.3 million), Iowa-Boston College/Pinstripe (4 million), Boise State-Oregon/Las Vegas (3.8 milIion), Army-San Diego State/Armed Forces (3.5 million), Texas Tech-USF/Birmingham (3.4 million), Texas-Missouri/Texas (3.4 million), Kansas State-UCLA/Cactus (3.3 million), Duke-Northern Illinois/Detroit (2.5 million), and N.C. A&T-Grambling/Celebration (2.4 million); equal to the Florida State-Southern Miss Independence; and more than Fresno State-Houston/Hawaii (2.1 million), Purdue-Arizona/San Francisco (2.1 million), Navy-Virginia/Military (2 million), Appalachian State-Toledo/Mobile (1.8 million),Temple-FIU/St. Petersburg (1.6 million), Michigan State-Washington State/Holiday (1.6 million), Wyoming-Central Michigan/Idaho Potatoes (1.5 million), FAU-Akron/Boca Raton (1.4 million), Troy-North Texas/New Orleans (1.3 million), MTSU-Arkansas State/Camelia (1.2 million), Marshall-Colorado State/New Mexico (1.2 million), La. Tech-SMU/Frisco (1.2 million), and Ohio-UAB/Bahamas (882,000).
There are all sorts of factors, including time slots, channel and competition. But a whole bunch of bowl games — most of them blowouts, not coincidentally — were down considerably from 2016. The Utes’ win was a blowout, WVU’s meaningless late TD notwithstanding, so the viewership increase over 2016 is impressive.
NO ARIZONA BOWL NUMBERS • CBSSN doesn’t release ratings, so we have no way of knowing how many people watched the Utah State-New Mexico State game.
UTAH, BYU, USU FOOTBALL TV RATINGS • Some channels (BYUtv, the Pac-12 Network, CBSSN) don’t report ratings, but here are the ones we do have.
I give you these without comment, except to say that ratings are influenced by the opponent, the channel, the time slot, what other games are on … and whether a team was having a terrible season so its fans couldn’t bear to tune in.
Utah-USC (ABC, Oct. 14) • 3.19 million viewers
BYU-Wisconsin (ABC, Sept. 16) • 2.27 million
BYU-LSU (ESPN, Sept. 2) • 1.76 million
USU-Wisconsin (ESPN, Sept. 1) • 1.76 million
Utah-Washington (ESPN, Nov. 18) • 1.54 million
BYU-Boise State (ESPN, Oct. 6) • 1.04 million
BYU-Portland State (ESPN, Aug. 26) • 939,000
Utah-BYU (ESPN2, Sept. 9) • 668,000
Utah-Stanford (FS1, Oct. 7) • 631,000
Utah-Arizona (FS1, Sept. 22) • 581,000
Utah-UCLA (FS1, Nov. 3) • 563,000
BYU-UNLV (ESPN2, Nov. 10) • 525,000
Utah-Arizona State (FS1, Oct. 21) • 387,000
BYU-Fresno State (ESPN2, Nov. 4) • 324,000
Utah-San Jose State (ESPN2, Sept. 16) • 294,000
USU-Air Force (ESPN2, Nov. 25) • 288,000
Utah-Colorado (FS1, Nov. 25) • 273,000
OK, just one comment. I kind of thought ESPN was nuts when it aired BYU-Portland State nationally in late August, but there were very few games that day and, clearly, nearly a million football fans were hungry to see college football.