For all the endless talk, on this site and all over, about various sports talk shows and debate shows and studio shows, we all know it’s live content that drives viewership to a sports network.
So it’s somewhat of a landmark event for FS1 that the the four-year-old network will broadcast its first ever bowl game on Dec. 28, when it airs the Holiday Bowl.
The Holiday Bowl will be televised by FS1 on Dec. 28. The network's first bowl game.
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) June 15, 2017
Not only is the Holiday Bowl a good get for FS1, it’s a loss for ESPN, which has broadcast the game, first held in 1978, all but one year since 1980.
The 2017 Holiday Bowl will be played at 9 p.m. on Dec. 28, putting it directly up against the Alamo Bowl, which will air on ESPN a the same time. The Alamo Bowl typically draws better teams than the Holiday Bowl, but FS1 will likely measure itself against ESPN nonetheless. Given the networks’ rivalry, it would be surprising if both go all-out in promoting these games as they fight for many of the same viewers.
The Holiday Bowl features one team from the Pac-12 and one from the Big Ten and generally attracts solid, upper-middle-class football schools, including USC, Wisconsin and Nebraska in recent years. In the past decade, the game has featured 12 ranked teams, putting it in the upper echelon of non-New Year’s Six bowls. The Alamo Bowl features a Pac-12 and Big 12 school and tends to draw better matchups, including top-15 showdowns each of the past three seasons.
Last December, the Holiday Bowl reportedly drew 4,046,000 viewers on ESPN, down from previous year but still more than any other cable program on Dec. 27.
There are two battles to watch here: How the 2017 Holiday Bowl on FS1 compares to the 2016 Holiday Bowl on ESPN and how the 2017 Holiday Bowl on FS1 compares to the 2017 Alamo Bowl on ESPN.
FS1 presumably won’t come out ahead in either matchup, but given that the network will probably market the hell out of the Holiday Bowl, it should be able to draw a nice audience and establish some extra currency with college football fans.