The college football bowl season is now upon us, and with the addition of the college football playoff there are 41 bowl games that will be competed in by 80 schools, including 15 (!) teams without a winning record.
The reason there are so many bowl games has little to do with demand. After all, many of these games will be played in half-empty stadiums and receive poor ratings on television. The real reason gets back to who has the most invested in the bowl games: ESPN and its parent company, Disney.
Of the 41 games, 38 will be broadcast by ESPN or one of its sister networks, ABC and ESPN2. The other three bowls will air on CBS, CBS Sports Network, and the American Sports Network. Meanwhile, the reason ESPN is willing to pay to broadcast as many bowl games as possible is that live programming is what makes ESPN the king of cable, and the bowl games fill empty time slots.
In other words, don’t look for fewer bowl games anytime soon.