Problem 1: Nobody was watching Big East teams play cupcakes in November.
Problem 2: “Big” teams are generally unwilling to play November road games against top competition.
Problem 3: FS1 is still relatively unknown for non-MMA/non-racing fans.
Solution: Coerce one of the “Big” conference into a series.
When they were announced last May, we said the Gavitt Games were a gift from the Gods for FS1 and the Big East. With the ratings in, it’s no longer simply conjecture, it’s verifiable proof. The four Big Ten/Big East tilts all fell in the top-8 of all-time November ratings on FS1, including the most-watched November game in network history, Iowa’s demolition of Marquette.
|Nebraska vs. Villanova||163,000||0.1|
|Illinois vs. Providence||143,000||0|
|Rutgets vs. St. Johns||104,000||0|
|Iowa vs. Marquette||209,000||0.1|
The most amazing part of this, was the matchups on FS1 turned out to be duds from a marketing point of view. The marquee game was on ESPN2 and of the eight teams on FS1, only one (Villanova) was ranked and was pitted against a mediocre Nebraska team.
Believe it or not, that probably makes network execs even happier. Sure, getting 500k to watch the Hoyas and Terps renew their rivalry would have been great, but it wouldn’t have told us much about the channel, as that is a game that sells itself. When your worst game between two rebuilding programs is the 8th most watched game ever (in November on FS1), you’re doing something right.
Now, before we pop the bubbly, it’s best to stipulate these numbers aren’t tremendous by any stretch of the imagination. The 209k would be a bad game on ESPN2. However, you have to start somewhere. FS1 had 638,000 cumulative viewers in November in 2014. It had 619k on these four games alone.
With a pair of ranked teams and nationally recognized talent, the foundation for a strong year, ratings wise, is there for the Big East and FS1. This was a great start.
Below are the full November ratings for FOX Sports 1 the past three years. The Gavitt Games are highlighted.