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Citi Ditches Rose Bowl; So FedEx Wasn't Driven Away By Poor Orange Bowl Ratings?

Citi will become the second title sponsor coming off one of the four big money BCS bowl games, as they will not renew their presenting sponsorship for the Rose Bowl. Per the SportsBusiness Journal:

The Granddaddy Of Them All is looking for a new sugar daddy. Citi is out as presenting sponsor of the Rose Bowl after a seven-year run supporting college football's most august bowl game.

Citi's decision not to renew its deal mainly was based on flexibility and price, sources said. One of the main reasons why it decided to drop the game is because of ESPN's restrictions over when and where it would spend its money as the Rose Bowl's lead sponsor.

ESPN has taken over selling all marketing and advertising inventory around the BCS game under its four-year, $495 million deal to carry BCS games through January 2014. ESPN has been in the market for four months selling a new package for the four BCS games.

Back in May when the SportsBusiness Journal reported that FedEx would not renew its entitlement with the Orange Bowl, the article's authors intimated that poor ratings were behind the decision.

The Orange Bowl has lost some of its prestige in recent years because of lackluster matchups, due primarily to its ACC bowl tie-in and TV ratings declines. The Iowa-Georgia Tech game on Jan. 5 generated a 6.8 rating and 10.9 million viewers, the smallest audience of the four BCS games.

The 2009 game between Virginia Tech and Cincinnati drew a 5.4 rating and 9.3 million viewers, the lowest numbers ever for a BCS game.

So Citi's decision to drop the Rose Bowl must have been motivated by poor ratings too, right? Probably not.

Last year's Ohio State-Oregon Rose Bowl drew 19.95 million viewers last year, second to only the BCS National Championship Game (also played in the Rose Bowl with Citi's name slapped on as a title sponsor). In fact, the Rose Bowl is consistently the highest rated, non-BCS Championship Game bowl game in terms of TV viewers. The Grandaddy Of Them All drew a 11.1 rating in 2007 (USC-Michigan), 11.7 in 2008 (USC-Illinois) and a 13.2 in 2009 (USC-Penn State).

Both the ACC and the Big East were dealt a bit of a black eye when FedEx announced they were dropping the title sponsorship of the Orange Bowl. The conference's BCS bowl tie-in was cited as a reason why FedEx was walking away from their 21 year relationship with the Orange Bowl. Now that Citi is walking away from the Rose Bowl, it appears that ESPN's more restrictive, expensive sponsorship packages are more of a reason for walking away than poor TV ratings.

Or maybe, with this recent wave of conference realignment, Citi just feared having a future Rose Bowl matchup between Nebraska-Colorado (a current Big 12 North matchup) or Northwestern-Utah.