ESPN2 has been around since 1993 – over 20 years. And in that time, the little sister of the mothership has televised more than its fair share of important sporting events. NBA games, NHL games, NASCAR races, college athletics, you name it. At this point, ESPN and ESPN2 might as well be interchangeable with their importance to sports fans.
And while the college football playoff and bowl season have brought major ratings to ESPN and set cable ratings records, the deuce (does anyone still call it that anymore?) saw some history as well.
On New Year’s Day, the Outback Bowl between Auburn and Wisconsin drew a 3.8 rating and 6.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched program in ESPN2 history. According to AL.com, it surpassed a NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Phoenix in 2008 that managed 4.6 million.
Although the Outback Bowl played second fiddle to the New Year’s Six and faced direct competition from the Cotton Bowl, it was still a great game. Wisconsin defeated Auburn in overtime to claim one of three massive January 1 bowl victories for the Big Ten.
So that’s the #1 and #2 cable programs of all-time (Sugar Bowl & Rose Bowl) and a record audience for ESPN2 (Outback Bowl) all on January 1, 2015. Kinda makes you wonder why college football is taking its biggest games off the holiday the next two years.