ESPN Scores Cable's Second-Largest Audience Ever as 24.2 Million Watch Alabama-LSU


It was a night second to none for Alabama, which rolled up LSU to win the BCS national championship, with ESPN's telecast placing as the second-most-watched show in the history of cable.
ESPN's Jan. 9 coverage of the Tide's 21-0 throttling of the Tigers posted a 14.0 national household rating, translating into nearly 16.1 million households and 24.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen data.
The telecast, which easily led all of TV on Monday, trailed only last year's BCS title tilt - Auburn topped Oregon 22-19 on Jan. 10, 2011 in the final seconds. That game scored a 15.3 rating and 17.7 million homes, with the contest's 27.3 million viewers standing as the largest audience in the medium's history.
The 2012 BCS championship contest -- a rematch of the Tigers' 9-6 win in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5 that drew over 20 million viewers on CBS -- declined 11% from last year's all-time top telecast mark.

While the game scored huge on cable -- the BCS action had been on ABC and Fox until 2011--  Bama-LSU ranks as the lowest-rated BCS championship matchup since a 13.7 for USC-Oklahoma on ABC and was the least-viewed since Fox tallied 23.1 million for LSU-Ohio State in 2008.

Among the 14 BCS championship telecasts, this year's rematch of the Southeastern Conference West opponents was the third-lowest-rated ajnd fifth-least-viewed, according to SportsMedia Watch.

The five games comprising the BCS -- the Sugar, Rose, Fiesta and Orange Bowls and the title game -- were down 13% in ratings to an 8.4 overnight average from a 9.6 last season, off 13% to 9.7 million from 11.1 million households, and decreased 16% to 14.1 million viewers from 16.7 million a year ago.

Those were the BCS's lowest marks to date, an average that was deflated by the Orange Bowl that saw West Virginia demolish Clemson 70-33. That Jan. 4 telecast was the lowest BCS audience ever, drawing just 7.2 million viewers.