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Versus Revs Up for Its First Bowl Game

January 8, 2008 2:59 PM

I would think that if any powerhouse company could change the BCS Bowl system to bring in a playoff, it would have to be the networks.

Last night’s Allstate BCS Championship Game on Fox last night earned a 14.4/22 household rating and share, and was easily the highest-rated show in prime time. However, the game was down 17% from last year’s 17.4/27, according to Nielsen Media Research data, due largely to the participation of the smaller-market LSU. Of course, the fact that two teams who arguably were not dominant through the topsy-turvy season likely had a lot to do with it as well.

Here’s to moving forward with the discussed plus one game for 2009 or 2010, as blowouts in a number of key bowls are hurting ratings and interest nationally.

There is one more Bowl to go, of course, and it’s an interesting one from an industry perspective. The Hula Bowl will be broadcast Saturday on Versus, marking the channel’s first foray into post-season college football.

Versus has quietly had a solid season with its college football gamecasts, beefing up its number of games from nine in 2006 to 19 in 2007. Comparing the two seasons, Versus saw a 50% jump in rating and a 92% increase in total viewership by airing contests from the Big 12, Pac-10 and Mountain West conferences, with the Pac-10 games in particular boosting numbers and averaging a 0.5 score during the season.

In fact, the network scored twice with two of the biggest upsets of the year, Stanford’s win over USC on Oct. 6 and Oregon State taking down Cal the following week on Oct. 13.

Heading to the Hula Bowl, which pits top players from the East against the West, Versus is going all-out to make the most of the event.

“We're proud to air the Hula Bowl as the first postseason college football game on our network,” said Marc Fein, Versus’ senior VP of programming and production. “We had a terrific college football schedule this year, one that featured nationally ranked teams as well as some of the biggest upsets of the year and, arguably, in college football history with Stanford defeating USC. The Hula Bowl, which showcases some of the best collegiate football players in the country, is a great way to conclude our college football season.”

Airing the game for the first time in network history, Versus has tapped Ron Thulin as the play-by-play announcer, Kelly Stouffer as the analyst and Lewis Johnson as the reporter.


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