update: viewership numbers are here (and spectacular).
The ratings are in for the first ever College Football Playoff semifinals and not surprisingly they were quite good. It makes comparisons to prior years’ Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl numbers a bit apples-to-pears, but ESPN isn’t complaining.
Oregon’s victory over Florida State in the Rose Bowl scored a 15.5 overnight household rating and Ohio States win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl averaged a 15.3 household rating.
The Michigan State/Baylor Cotton Bowl averaged a 5.3 overnight household rating.
more via ESPN press release:
College Football Playoff Semifinals: Highest Overnight Ratings Ever for Non-Championship Football Game on ESPN and ABC
The inaugural College Football Playoff Semifinal doubleheader Thursday, Jan. 1, delivered the highest overnight ratings ever for a non-championship game on ESPN and ABC The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual at 5 p.m. ET – Oregon defeating Florida State 59-20 in the largest margin of victory in a Rose Bowl game since 1948 – averaged a 15.5 metered market rating while the Allstate Sugar Bowl at 9 p.m. – a 42-35 Ohio State victory over Alabama – posted a 15.3 overnight rating. Both games are also the highest-rated New Year’s Day college football games on an ESPN network ever.
Both games also generated significant increases over the ESPN bowl games in the respective January 1 time slots: a 38 percent increase over the 5 p.m. telecast (vs. 11.2) and 125 percent increase over the prime time matchup (vs. 7.2).
Birmingham was the top market for both telecasts, averaging a 39.6 rating for The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual, and a 50.2 for the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Rose Bowl Game: Portland was the second highest-rated metered market with a 30.8 rating followed by Columbus (29.8), Dayton (26.7), Knoxville (25.1), Jacksonville (24.0), Greenville (23.9), Tampa-St. Petersburg (23.4), Atlanta (21.3) and Orlando (20.7). Overall, the coverage generated the highest metered market rating for a bowl game on ESPN in three markets and a record for a non-college football national championship telecast in 15 markets.
Sugar Bowl: Columbus was the second highest-rated metered market with a 43.7 rating followed by Dayton (38.7), Cleveland (32.5), New Orleans (25.0), Nashville (24.6), Memphis (23.9), Atlanta (23.4), Knoxville (23.3) and Cincinnati (22.8). Overall, the coverage generated the highest metered market rating for a bowl game on ESPN in seven markets and a record for a non-college football national championship telecast in 10 markets.