College Football Championship Second Most Watched Ever

The thrilling College Football Playoff National Championship between Georgia and Alabama Monday night averaged 28,443,000 viewers on its Nielsen-rated networks (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU as part of its MegaCast production). It was the second-highest rated championship and up 13% from last season.

Alabama beat Georgia in overtime with a 41-yard TD pass from freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to win 26-23.

This season’s College Football Playoff National Championship, the first ever to go to overtime, was also up 9% from ESPN’s MegaCast presentation (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU) of the second CFP National Championship (January 11, 2016). For Georgia-Alabama, the ESPN-only telecast averaged 27,383,000 million viewers.

The massive audience for Alabama’s come-from-behind, last play victory is the second biggest for any cable presentation in history. Now, the College Football Playoff Era has delivered ESPN the four biggest audiences in cable history and seven of the top 10.

“The record-breaking audiences, over the course of multiple years, clearly reinforce how the College Football Playoff has quickly established itself as an elite event on the sports calendar,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president, programming and scheduling. “Last night’s thrilling finish coupled with ESPN’s innovative MegaCast presentation showcased the incredible strength of college football and the deep connection live sports have with fans.”

ESPN Dominates Cable’s Most-Watched Telecast List
Overall, ESPN has now televised all 10 of the most-watched cable telecasts and 18 of the top 20.

Rank Viewership Date Matchup Network(s)
1 33,917,000 1/12/2015 CFP National Championship (Oregon/Ohio State) ESPN
2 28,443,000 1/8/2018 CFP National Championship (Georgia vs. Alabama) ESPN
3 28,271,000 1/1/2015 CFP Semifinal Sugar Bowl (Ohio State vs. Alabama) ESPN
4 28,164,000 1/1/2015 CFP Semifinal Rose Bowl (Florida State vs. Oregon) ESPN
5 27,316,000 1/10/2011 BCS National Championship (Oregon vs. Auburn) ESPN
6 26,826,000 1/1/2018 CFP Semifinal Rose Bowl (Georgia vs. Oklahoma) ESPN
7 26,380,000 1/7/2013 BCS National Championship (Notre Dame vs. Alabama) ESPN
8 26,125,000 1/11/2016 CFP National Championship (Alabama vs. Clemson) ESPN
9 26,061,000 1/6/2014 BCS National Championship (Florida State vs. Auburn) ESPN
10 25,266,000 1/9/2017 CFP National Championship
(Alabama vs. Clemson)

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