The CW Must Find A Way to Keep the Arizona Bowl Alive

The Arizona Bowl is without a title sponsor. The CW needs to stay in the Bowl broadcasting game. To do this, they may need some unique ideas.

The CW aired the Arizona Bowl for the first time in 2023.
Source: Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

ESPN owns Bowl season. Make no mistake. The ESPN family of networks televises all but three bowls: the Sun Bowl (CBS), the Holiday Bowl (Fox), and The Arizona Bowl (The CW). The Arizona Bowl made its triumphant debut on The CW this season. The ratings did well for a Group of Five Bowl game on a first-time bowl broadcaster.

The matchup between Toledo and Wyoming drew a 0.6 rating and 1.10 million viewers. This was the second-highest viewership of any game on The CW this year, behind Florida State-North Alabama, which drew 1.33 million viewers. These numbers may seem like small potatoes, but they are commendable when considering the game went head-to-head with an Orange Bowl featuring the #5 and #6 teams. Yet, despite these encouraging figures, the biggest news to come from the bowl was Barstool Sports backing out of their sponsorship of the bowl.

Once again, the Arizona Bowl has found itself in hot water. Although brief, the history of the Arizona Bowl has had plenty of tenuous times. The bowl started without much fanfare in 2015, becoming the first bowl since the 1994 Freedom Bowl to not be on national television.

Campus Insiders streamed the bowl, while the American Sports Network simultaneously syndicated the first two editions. Media rights shifted to the CBS Sports Network, which held them from 2017-2020, and then to Barstool Sports in 2021.

Finally, it appeared the Arizona Bowl had found its ideal television partner when The CW Sports partnered with Barstool Sports to air the Arizona Bowl. Unfortunately, the lack of a title sponsor jeopardizes the Arizona Bowl's future.

Here is where the CW can step in. The network should stay in the Bowl broadcasting mix and keep the Arizona Bowl. Bowl games are among the most viewed television events during the Holiday period. After all, 1.95 million people watched Miami (OH) play App State on ABC.

The CW can uniquely invest in the Arizona Bowl by having one of its most-watched series serve as the title sponsor. This move would serve as cross-promotion for the network. In the last few years, we have seen Bowl sponsors reach new heights of notoriety for various gimmicks during Bowl season. Duke’s Mayo and Scooter’s Coffee are two brands that rose to promote after sponsoring bowls.

The CW can join the fun by implementing their gimmicks with the Arizona Bowl. They can have the lead actor or actress in Sullivan's Crossing perform the coin toss or have members of the cast of The Swarm join the broadcasting team in the booth. Whichever show they choose can have the winning coach earn a guest appearance on the next season of the show.

The CW should not follow Barstool’s lead and give up on the Arizona Bowl. Bowl Season needs a more even spread of broadcast partners. ESPN's consolidation of bowl season has diminished the uniqueness of several bowls. More importantly, the Arizona Bowl brought viewers who otherwise would not tune into the network. The Arizona Bowl allows the network to promote its lineup of shows to a new audience. The CW must protect the Arizona Bowl at all costs to gain ground on their competitors in sports and scripted television broadcasting, even if that means getting a little bit creative.