National TV shows spotlight UT
The national spotlight focused on the UT campus in a big way this fall. Two national TV shows—the Today show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb and ESPN College GameDay—aired live from our campus, giving UT great national exposure.
It all began with a few students who used Twitter to capture the attention of Today show producers and make UT a finalist in the “Kathie Lee and Hoda Go Back to College” challenge. Those same students led a feverish Twitter voting campaign that brought the show to UT on October 1. The set was built on the south lawn of Ayres Hall and a huge crowd gathered to watch the live broadcast.
Our students were part of a live game show and took host Sara Haines on a campus tour. The show also spotlighted our cheerleaders, mascots, and band, student step teams, and a variety of other students, faculty, and staff.
Many East Tennesseans who didn’t come to campus to join in the excitement watched on TV.
WBIR noted its October 1 viewership for the final hour of the Today show rose significantly. Its “share”— television industry lingo for the percentage of local viewers watching—averaged 29.
News Director Christy Moreno called the rating “quite impressive” and something “we don’t typically see” in the morning.
Today show producers said the show was viewed by about three million people.
Earlier this fall, ESPN College GameDay did its live pregame show from Circle Park. Hundreds of Vols fans gathered to watch host Chris Fowler; analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, and David Pollack; and reporter Samantha Steele.
It was the eighth time Tennessee hosted GameDay and the first time since 2004 that GameDay aired live from campus.