A Brief Analysis of Cornell's Appearance on ESPN2

Cornell will appear on ESPN or ESPN2 for the first time in 33 years. The Big Red and the Ivy League should see strong viewership numbers tonight

Cornell Plays on ESPN or ESPN2 for the first time since 1990 tonight.
Source: Cornell Athletics

Major League Baseball's lack of postseason parity benefitted the Ivy League immensely as Cornell and Harvard received a bump from ESPNU to ESPN2. The multiple sweeps across the Wild Card round facilitated this move. While Harvard last played on ESPN2 in 2018, when The Game made a rare appearance at Fenway Park, this is a rare occurrence for Cornell.

The Big Red have not appeared on ESPN or ESPN2 since 1990, when they played Brown on ESPN on October 28 of that year. From 1988-1990, the Ivy League had a TV contract with ESPN, which aired five Ancient Eight games per season. The league received $175,000 from the network, or $408,279.26 in today's money. The Big Red demolished the Brown 34-7, led by John McNiff's 95 rush yards and a record-setting, 99-yard pick-six by linebacker Mark Broderick.

Cornell and Harvard will see a significant bump in viewership. Data gathered from Sportsmediawatch.com shows ESPN's Friday night games average around 1.4 million viewers thus far.

Ratings For ESPN's Friday Night Games
Source: Table Generated by Author

Even the lowest-viewed game, Army-UTSA, drew just below one million viewers. The Ivy League does not disclose viewership or rating numbers for their Friday night ESPNU games, but Harvard-Cornell exceeding 500,000 viewers on ESPN2 is a victory for the league.

In the end, through a strange turn of events, the biggest beneficiary of Major League Baseball's expansion of the playoff round was the Ivy League. With Cornell seeing the ESPN/ESPN2 lights for the first time in over three decades, it is time to party like it is 1990.