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ESPN Beats Rival Fox in Deion Sanders Bowl

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Author: Michael McCarthy

ESPN and Fox Sports went head-to-head with the so-called Deion Sanders Bowl last weekend with the former scoring a television win.

Sanders and Colorado are the hottest story in sports, as evidenced by CBS News’ storied “60 Minutes” sending a crew to profile “Coach Prime” in Boulder, Colorado.

On Saturday, ESPN and Fox — the ruling TV duopoly of college sports — both sent their pregame studio shows to Boulder to hype the Rocky Mountain grudge match between Colorado and Colorado State.

But “College GameDay” more than doubled the audience of Fox’s rival “Big Noon Kickoff,” according to sources.

With analyst Lee Corso making his 400th headgear pick, “College GameDay” averaged 2,267,000 viewers, peaking at 2,994,000 during its final hour — the best September “College GameDay” episode since 2010 and third-best episode ever for the month.

In comparison, “Big Noon Kickoff” pulled 952,000 average viewers — and 1,109,000 in its final hour. 

Fox’s Rob Gronkowski made a guest appearance. Rapper Lil Wayne, who co-stars on Skip Bayless’ “Undisputed Live,” performed before Colorado’s wild 43-35 win over CSU. (To keep the peace between the rival networks, Sanders appeared live on both pregame shows.) 

On Friday, ESPN wheeled out the big guns, sending Stephen A. Smith, Shannon Sharpe, and Molly Qerim’s “First Take,” as well as “The Pat McAfee Show,” on location in Boulder.

Although FS1’s Los Angeles-based production studios are closer to the campus, the network didn’t return fire by sending Bayless and his revamped cast.

Smith’s “First Take” drew five times the audience of Bayless’ “Undisputed” on Friday. 

ESPN’s “First Take” averaged 611,000 viewers on Friday to “Undisputed’s” 120,000, according to sources.

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Sanders did ESPN a solid by appearing on both “First Take” and “McAfee.” He even passed out free pairs of his signature Blenders sunglasses to the hosts, who were obviously pleased.

Inevitably, the Colorado media balloon will burst when the Buffs suffer their first loss, possibly against high-scoring Oregon Saturday. But until then, Sanders and the resurgent Colorado are TV gold — especially with Black American viewers.

Sanders and Colorado have played in three of the five most-watched college football games this season.

ESPN’s telecast of the Buffaloes’ double-overtime win over the Rams averaged 9.3 million viewers — the most-watched college football game of the season and the network’s most-watched late prime-time game ever. 

But for this Saturday at least, Boulder will be quiet after a weekend hosting the biggest stars in sports media, entertainment and music. 

Despite sister Disney network ABC showing Colorado vs. Oregon, ESPN’s “College GameDay” will be in South Bend, Indiana, for Notre Dame vs. Ohio State.

Fox’s “Big Noon Kickoff,” meanwhile, will travel to Ohio for Cincinnati vs. Oklahoma. 

UPDATE: There’s no flies on Skip Bayless or FS1.

On Friday, they announced “Undisputed Live” will go live on the road to Boulder next Friday before the eagerly-awaited Colorado vs. USC game.

“I’m trying to talk my man Lil Wayne into joining us in Boulder,” said Bayless.

“We coming,” added Michael Irvin, Sanders’ former teammate with the Cowboys.

With Fox expected to draw monster ratings for Buffs vs. Trojans, look for “Big Noon Saturday” to broadcast on location from Boulder on Saturday, Sep. 30.

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The post ESPN Beats Rival Fox in Deion Sanders Bowl appeared first on Front Office Sports.

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Author: Michael McCarthy