The inaugural College Football Playoff ended with a flourish for ESPN, as Monday’s National Championship drew north of 33 million viewers to rank as the most-watched broadcast in cable TV history.
The 33.4 million was up 18% from the previous record — set 11 days prior on New Year’s Day — of 28.3 million for Ohio State’s victory over Alabama in the semifinals. It was also up 31% from last year’s BCS Championship game. Ohio State’s 42-20 win over Oregon also notched a cable TV record 18.2 household rating.
Monday’s game finished just short of the 35 million that tuned into ABC’s coverage of the 2006 Rose Bowl between USC and Texas, which still ranks as the top college football broadcast.
Overall, the College Football Playoff now accounts for the three largest audiences in cable TV history. The two semifinals and championship game averaged a composite 29.8 million viewers and a 16.0 rating.
When adding in the additional networks that provided companion viewing options as part of ESPN’s “Megacast,” the viewership number was 34.1 million.