The number of people tuning in to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl could increase when the college football game airs on a new date.
ESPN plans to present the game between Ohio and Nevada starting at 1:30 p.m. Mountain time on Friday, Jan. 3. The game will be played at Albertsons Stadium on the Boise State University campus. It was previously played on Dec. 21.
The Idaho Potato Commission became title sponsor in 2011. The commission, which has long considered the bowl sponsorship important to Idaho potatoes’ national branding effort, pays ESPN about $450,000. The game on average draws an audience of about 2 million and generates more than $14 million in “media value” over its four-hour window, not including in-game incidental exposure or social media.
“We’ll see if that number changes,” commission President and CEO Frank Muir said, referring to the audience total. “ESPN owns our bowl game and wants to get the biggest audience they can.”
The audience may increase because the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is the only game on Jan. 3. The bowl season wraps up with games Jan. 4 and 6, followed by the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 13, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The new date means the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will have less audience competition on game day while accommodating Boise State University winter graduation ceremonies on Dec. 21, viewership of the Dec. 21 Las Vegas Bowl (BSU plays Washington), and holiday travel, Muir said.
The game’s new date also is closer to the New Year’s Idaho Potato Drop in Boise. The commission is one of the sponsors of the event, which usually draws about 30,000 revelers and draws national TV exposure.
Commission marketing and research is funded by a checkoff of 12.5 cents per hundredweight; 7.5 cents or 60% comes from the grower and 5 cents is paid by a subsequent handler, such as a shipper or processor. Marketing accounts for 65% to 70% of the budget most years. Idaho accounts for about one-third of U.S. potato production.