Goodyear Sticks With College Football in Spite of Ratings Dive

  • Tire company will renew its sponsorship of the Cotton Bowl
  • Deal comes as ratings for New Year's Eve games dropped 36%

Unfazed by slumping ratings for this year’s college football playoff games, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.has renewed its title sponsorship of the Cotton Bowl, one of the six games in rotation to host the national semifinals.

Financial terms of the multiyear contract weren’t disclosed by the company, which has been an official partner of the four-team playoff since it began last year.

The renewal comes as ratings for the college football playoffs have plummeted. This year’s semifinals, played on New Year’s Eve and including Alabama’s 38-0 win over Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl, saw overnight ratings tumble 36 percent from the previous year. Ratings for the national title game between Clemson and Alabama dropped 15 percent compared with last year.

Media buyers have complained about the ratings plunge, and Broadcasting and Cable reported that ESPN, a unit of the Walt Disney Co., may need to negotiate more than $20 million in what are called make-goods with advertisers.

That said, Bill Hancock, executive director of the college football playoff, has remained firmly committed to playing on New Year’s Eve, even though viewers might be more likely to watch the games on TV on another night.

Seth Klugherz, North America marketing director at Goodyear, said he had “no trepidation” over this year’s ratings and that the bowl game is a part of the company’s season-long commitment to college football. The Cotton Bowl, which is played at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, will host another semifinal in 2018.

“Three years from now is a long time,” Klugherz said. “I’m very confident experts will make all the right decisions to maximize reach.”

The agreement will highlight the Goodyear Blimp on ESPN’s College GameDay program and key games on the network. The company’s aerial coverage with the blimp began with the 1955 Rose Bowl.

“It’s a very, very important sport for us,” Klugherz said. “College football has over 160 million fans. Very passionate. Very engaged. ”

ESPN said it posted record non-World Cup numbers on its WatchESPN mobile application for Alabama’s title game win over Clemson. The network said it had more than 1.9 million unique viewers on the app, which is 500,000 more than last year’s championship between Oregon and Ohio State.

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