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Georgia Football

BREAKING: CBS Makes its Final Call on the Georgia Bulldogs vs. Florida Gators

May 23, 2023

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ATHENS - Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs will take on Billy Napier and his Florida Gators in Jacksonville at 3:30 on CBS. 

That announcement was made by the network today. Georgia is coming off back-to-back national titles. Coach Kirby Smart enters his eighth season at UGA with a 81–15 record. He has a 6-2 record against the Gators A year ago the No. 1 Dawgs ran over the Gators 42-20. That game was also broadcast by CBS at 3:30, which has been the game’s traditional spot since 1996. Georgia’s lopsided win over the Gators in 2022 was watched by 5.62 million fans - making it the No. 22 most-watched regular season game of 2022.

The move was not surprising, and was the latest and last in a long line of CBS selecting the game ahead of the season. 

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The World’s Largest Cocktail Party, as the game is known, has been watched by more than 60 million viewers since 2012 - making the game the fourth most-watched so-called rivalry game in college football behind only Ohio State-Michigan, the Iron Bowl and Army-Navy

CBS has used the Georgia-Florida game as linchpin it its yearly contract with the SEC. Only once, in 2002, has CBS not broadcast the game. All UGA-UF games on CBS in that time have been at 3:30. The network has selected the game before the season nearly each year it has had the opportunity to. 

The 2023 game will be the final season the game will be on CBS, however. In 2024, Disney’s acquisition of TV rights for the SEC means the game will almost certainly move to ABC. Georgia and the Gators last played on ABC in 1995. Insiders indicate that it is possible the game’s time could move to primetime, but that schools like Georgia, Florida, Texas and Oklahoma would have say in what time their neutral-site rivalries would be played. 

“The schools have input on that,” said one SEC source. “But the final say will be with our broadcasting partner.”

Texas AD Chris Del Conte has indicated that he would like to see the Horns’ annual rivalry with Oklahoma moved to a 3:30 EST start. 

“One of the things I did talk to the Southeastern Conference about [is] I’d love to move that game to 2:30 (CST),” Del Conte told a town hall at Texas earlier this year. “ABC, 2:30. Wouldn’t that be awesome?”

Viewership for the Dawgs and Gators continues to be strong. 2022 was the smallest audience for the game lately - only 5.6 million viewers watched No. 1 Georgia’s win over the Gators. That means five years in a a row the Cocktail Party has had at least that many viewers - making it the second-most consistently-watched SEC football game broadcast in the last half decade behind only the Iron Bowl. 

Georgia’s punishing wipeout of the Gators in 2017 is the only game in the last decade not to have 4 million viewers. The listless Gators fired coach a day after Georgia’s 42-7 romp. 

Disney’s future broadcasts of the game may include a visit to campuses. Although the current contract with the City of Jacksonville has an option to keep the game there until the 2025 season, the Jags appear to be planning to renovate TIAA Bank Field - forcing a move from the traditional home of Georgia-Florida to campuses, or even Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

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