2016 AFR Celebration Bowl Reports Significant Total Live Audience Increase

Atlanta, GA - December 17, 2016 - Georgia Dome: Chad Williams (10) of the Grambling State University Tigers during the 2016 Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. (Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)
Atlanta, GA – December 17, 2016 – Georgia Dome: Grambling State’s Chad Williams (10) and North Carolina Central’s Nolan Corpening (36) leap for a pass the first quarter of the 2016 Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.
(Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)

ATLANTA – The second annual Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, played on December 17, 2016 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta delivered a total live audience (TV + streaming) of 2,723,000 viewers, a 6% increase over the inaugural 2015 game. The SWAC champion and FCS #14 Grambling State Tigers (12-1) prevailed 10-9 in a defensive battle over the MEAC champion and FCS #18 North Carolina Central Eagles (9-3). The Tigers, led by third year coach Broderick Fobbs, were named HBCU national champions as a result of their victory.

The audience for ESPN’s SportsCenter on the Road also increased in comparison to last year. The show was once again on site and reported for three hour, one extra hour over 2015. Both the NCCU Sound Machine and World Famed Grambling State Tiger Marching Bands were featured through live performances throughout the morning. The 11 a.m.-12 p.m. hour leading up to kickoff was the most watched SportsCenter of the day.

“We are excited to see a significant increase in both our TV audience and streaming audience,” said John Grant, executive director of the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. “2015 was already a great start and we showed the nation that the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl is a game worthy of kicking off the annual bowl season. Our strong ratings increase in 2016 validates our investment into the game and we are looking forward to an even better 2017 as the first bowl game from the then brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.”

Establishing itself as the first bowl game of the season, the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl is a postseason football game owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN. It is a championship-style game between the MEAC and SWAC champions and has been televised on ABC each of its first two years. ESPN Events collaborates with 100 Black Men of Atlanta to organize the game’s ancillary events which include a youth symposium, robotics showcase, gospel night, fan experience and more.


ESPN Events
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 13 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 250-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.


ESPN Media Contact: Rachel Margolis Siegal at 860-766-2798 or [email protected]

Hope-Beckham Inc. Media Contacts: Kerstin Hunt at 404-604-2491 or [email protected]; Wendy Hsiao at 404-604-2192 or [email protected]

Liquid Soul Media Contacts: Jackie O. Asare at 718-930-8400 or [email protected] or Jessica Manning at 404-313-7602 or [email protected]

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