LIV Golf's debut on CW may be the most disappointing debut for a sports league on network TV as the golf tour's Mayakoba event drew a 0.18 rating in the 26 metered markets the tournament aired on and an average of 289,000 viewers on Saturday and Sunday. In comparison, PGA Tour's Honda Classic drew a 1.24 rating and 2 million viewers on NBC on Saturday and Sunday. Possibly the most embarrassing outcome in this situation is the fact "World's Funniest Animals" outdrew LIV Golf this weekend.
Watching from afar, and likely wincing were organizers of the proposed Cincinnati Chili Bowl. Their prospective TV partner is The CW, so the network's first big foray into major sports was a hot topic. While the ratings are dreadful, they are not exactly a cause for concern. Below is a list of every bowl game aired on network TV in the 2022 postseason with ratings and viewership.
- December 17, Noon ET: Celebration Bowl, 1.4 rating and 2.42 million viewers
- December 17, 3:30 ET: Los Angeles Bowl, 1.3 rating and 2.4 million viewers
- December 17, 7:30 ET: New Mexico Bowl, 1.2 rating and 2.04 million viewers
- December 28, 8 ET: Holiday Bowl 2.15 rating and 3.97 million viewers
- December 30, 2:00 ET: Sun Bowl, 1.5 rating and 2.76 million viewers
- December 31, 12:00 ET: Music City Bowl, 1.7 rating and 3 million viewers
- January 1, Citrus Bowl: 1.9 rating and 3.33 million viewers
Every single bowl that aired on network TV this past season had a 1.2 rating and over one million viewers. In fact, the lowest-rated bowl of the season, the Bahamas Bowl, which had a brunchtime 11 AM ET time slot, on Friday, December 16 still had a 0.52 rating and 822,000 viewers.
A bowl game on a weekend afternoon on CW will very likely not be a ratings disaster like LIV Golf's season opener. LIV Golf's poor ratings are not an indictment on CW's reputability as a sports broadcaster but caused by other factors. The main factor was that LIV went up against its more experienced direct competitor in the PGA Tour. It also did not help that LIV Golf went up against an NBA game on ABC on Sunday afternoon.
Golf already lacks popularity relative to other sports in America, so pitting a new golf tour against not only other sports, but the PGA Tour as well doomed the ratings from the start. This is no cause for concern for the Cincinnati Chili Bowl as people will tune into college football, especially if it is over-the-air on network TV and on a weekend.