By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
THE 2021 Bahamas Bowl was the most-watched edition of the event in four years.
The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders claimed the Prime Minister’s Cup with a 31-24 win over the Toledo Rockets at the Thomas A Robinson Stadium on December 18 and was just one of the games to benefit from college football’s increase in viewership across the board.
According to Sports Media Watch, the Bahamas Bowl drew a rating of 0.6 - an increase of four percent and 851,000 viewers, an increase of 15 percent from the previous year.
Freshman quarterback Nicholas Vattiato completed 23-35 passes for 270 yards and two scores to earn Offensive MVP honours for the Blue Raiders. Senior linebacker DQ Thomas won Defensive MVP honours with a team-high eight tackles, 1.5 tackle for loss and a pass broken up.
Trailing 17-14 after three quarters, the Blue Raiders scored 17 consecutive points in the fourth quarter to rally for a 31-17 lead.
The Bahamas Bowl kicked off the college bowl season and featured two teams making their second trip to The Bahamas. MTSU lost the 2015 Bahamas Bowl appearance to Western Michigan Broncos, 45-31. Toledo came up a field goal short in the 2018 Bahamas Bowl to FIU, 35-32 – the Rockets’ most recent bowl game appearance.
The 2015 matchup between the Broncos and Blue Raiders drew in 2.1 million viewers on ESPN.
The Bahamas Bowl is owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN. ESPN Events owns and operates a portfolio of 35 collegiate sporting events nationwide.
The roster includes five early-season college football games, 17 college bowl games, 12 college basketball events and a college softball event, which accounts for approximately 400 hours of live programming, reaches nearly 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year.
Nine of the first 12 bowl games this season saw an increase in viewership.
ESPN’s top bowl game on its schedule thus has been the Armed Forces Bowl which featured Army and Missouri and averaged 2.57 million viewers. It represented a 14 percent increase from the 2020 game and was the most watched edition of the game since 2018.