College Football Playoff semifinal games draw huge audience for ESPN
College football didn’t drop the ball on New Year’s Eve, with ESPN emerging a bigtime winner from the College Football Playoff.
The last day of the year produced some firsts for ESPN as the ‘Worldwide Leader’ had a tremendous closeout to the year. The Rose Bowl featuring Alabama and Notre Dame drew 18.9 million eyeballs and the Sugar Bowl between Ohio State and Clemson checked in with 19.1 million viewers.
As ESPN notes, those numbers give the network quite a bang to end the year:
The #CFBPlayoff Semifinals were the best cable telecasts & best non-NFL sporting event across any network since the 2020 #NationalChampionship, averaging 19 million viewers and reaching 40.8 million viewers across all ESPN platforms pic.twitter.com/GRbdtzhrgp
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) January 5, 2021
The upcoming meeting between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio in the championship should be a ratings bonanza.
In what has been a down year across sports given COVID-19, the encouragement here is that viewership appears to be strong for college football moving forward. Given that television deals are the lifeblood of not just football but many athletic programs that depend on this revenue, these numbers bode well for 2021.
Earlier this year, Ohio State’s game against Indiana on FOX was the highest rated event on any network. Most impressive due to the fact that the game aired at noon on the East Coast.