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Gasparilla Bowl Draws 2.35 Million Viewers

How UCF’s 2023 TV viewership compared to past years

NCAA Football: Gasparilla Bowl-Georgia Tech at Central Florida Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The UCF Knights’ 30-17 loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Gasparilla Bowl was watched by 2.35 million viewers on ESPN, according to SportsmediaWatch.com.

It was the most-watched UCF game of the 2023 season, edging out the game at Oklahoma (2.17 million) which aired on ABC. It is up from last year’s loss to Duke in the Military Bowl, which was watched by 2.16 million viewers on ESPN, but is down significantly from the Knights’ last Gasparilla Bowl appearance in 2021, when UCF’s win over Florida drew 3.2 million.

According to Sportsmediawatch.com, it was the least-watched Gasparilla Bowl since 2019, which was between UCF and Marshall (1.15M).

Of the six bowl games UCF has played in Tampa, this year’s version was the third-least watched telecast ahead of the 2019 game against Marshall and the 2012 St. Petersburg Bowl against Ball State (1.9 million).


UCF Football TV Viewership Lowest Since 2016

Surprisingly, the Knights’ first season in the Big 12 did not produce a bigger TV viewership for UCF. Instead, it produced more channels that aired Knights games, with UCF showing up on ABC, ESPN, Fox, FS1, and FS2. The not-so-favorable TV slots contributed to the decline.

For the season, UCF telecasts averaged 817,000 viewers in 2023, which is down from the 2022 season (1,037,000), the Knights’ last season in the American Athletic Conference. It is the first time UCF telecasts did not average at least one million viewers since the 2016 season (816K), which was UCF's last sub-.500 season.

UCF, Houston, and Cincinnati were the only Big 12 schools not to average over one million TV viewers, according to Action Network’s Brett McMurphy.

It will be interesting to see how UCF and the Big 12 will fair in 2024 after losing the conference’s top two TV draws in Texas (4.26 million) and Oklahoma (2.61 million) to the SEC while adding Utah (2.61 million), Arizona (1.3 million), Arizona State (1.2 million), and Colorado (6.0 million).

Colorado was the third most-watched college football team in 2023 according to McMurphy’s article despite a 4-8 record, and figures to get most of the best Big 12 TV slots early in the 2024 season along with Utah. The Knights host both of them in 2024, and travel to Gainesville to play Florida (3.17 million), who ranked as the 17th most-watched team in 2023 despite going 5-7 on the season.

Will the 2024 season result in better TV slots for UCF? How the Knights perform on the field will ultimately help determine that.