UPDATED with final numbers. Last night’s inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship in primetime on ESPN turned out to be the most-watched show in cable history. The network just reported that 33.4M viewers tuned in to Ohio State’s 42-20 victory over Oregon. The game also garnered a final 18.2 rating, also a cable TV record.
The championship game gave ESPN its highest metered-market result in its 35-year history and the best ever in cable history. The Buckeyes’ 42-20 win over Oregon delivered a 18.5 overnight rating, a 21% jump over last year’s title game, in which Florida State beat Auburn in the BCS National Championship. That 2014 game pulled a 15.3 MM result for ESPN.
Record breaker to record breaker, the championship game of the new College Football Playoff format beat the previous ESPN metered-market holder by 14%. The former leader, 2011’s Auburn vs. Oregon BCS National Championship, garnered a 16.1 overnight. Last night’s Oregon-Ohio State game peaked from 9:30-9:45 PM with a 20.5 MM rating.
It goes without saying that the telecast delivered the biggest rating (51.2) in Columbus, Ohio, with Oregon coming in fourth (37.6). The rest of the top 10 markets last night were Dayton, Ohio (43.8), Cleveland (41.3), Portland, Birmingham, AL (36.1), Cincinnati (26.5), Jacksonville, FL (25.7), Knoxville, TN (25.5), Greenville, N.C. (24.1) and Atlanta (23.0).