It’s difficult for college basketball to draw decent ratings early in the season as it goes against bowls and sometimes the NFL. However, when you have two storied programs and in-state rivals like Kentucky and Louisville, it can sometimes buck the trend. On ESPN2 last Saturday, the Wildcats and Cardinals faced off opposite the Sun Bowl on CBS and the Military Bowl on ESPN.
While CBS’ Sun Bowl drew better with a 2.6 overnight rating, Kentucky-Louisville held its own with a 2.1 which is a record overnight rating for college basketball game on ESPN2. Meanwhile, the Military Bowl garnered a 2.0 on ESPN.
To do so well especially in bowl season tells us that college basketball can draw provided you have a decent matchup and game to boot. Sports Media Watch notes that the 2.1 overnight matched the same number when the game aired on CBS last year.
Overall, the Kentucky-Louisville game is an attractive game and ESPN was more than happy to have the game on one of its networks. The proof is in the numbers.’