ESPN wrapped up the inaugural College Football Playoff with the ultimate Nielsen paydirt, establishing a third record cable audience in as many telecasts with its coverage of Ohio State's decisive win over Oregon on Monday night.
The Jan. 13 telecast of the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship — the Buckeyes' 42-20 victory over the Ducks at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – averaged an 18.2 U.S. household rating and 33. 4 million viewers,according to Nielsen, delivering both the largest audience and highest rating in cable television history.
The worldwide leader's championship game presentation surpassed the Jan. 1 marks it set with the CFP semifinals -- OSU's win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl drew 28.3 million, eclipsing the 28.2 million who saw the opener of the doubleheader, Oregon's 59-20 demolition of defending champion Florida State in the Rose Bowl. The semifinals pushed the 2011 BCS title tilt --Auburn clipped Oregon -- and its 27.3 million average from the cable record book.
Standing together as the three-most-watched telecasts in cable history, the CFB Playoff Semifinals and National Championship combined to average 29.8 million viewers and a 16.0 household rating.
The College Football Playoff National Championship generated a 31% increase in viewership and a 26% rating gain over the 25.6 million and 14.4 ratings for 2014 BCS National Championship in which FSU beat Auburn in the last minute.
OSU-Oregon also came within shouting distance of the 35.6 million who saw Texas topple USC in the 2006 BCS title game, which remains the top college football telecast in history.
The simulcast of ESPN’s main telecast of the College Football Playoff National Championship on WatchESPN attracted 1.16 million unique viewers, 82 million minutes viewed and average minute audience of 366,000. The usage represents an increase of 110% (553,000 unique viewers), 144% (33,600,000 minutes viewed), and 128% (160,000 average audience), respectively, over the 2014 BCS National Championship.
With those deliveries, the CFP National Championship now ranks as the best college football game ever on WatchESPN based on unique viewers, minutes viewed, and an average minute audience surpassing this year’s Sugar Bowl (912,000 unique viewers, 58.7 million minutes viewed, and an average minute audience of 256,000). It also ranks as the best non-World Cup event ever on WatchESPN.
Beyond the traditional telecast, ESPN offered more than 12 ways to watch last night’s championship game through the "CFP Megacast." Collectively, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes and ESPNEWS, along with ESPN, combined to average 34,148,000 viewers and an 18.6 US household rating. This year’s “Megacast” increased viewership and ratings by 30%and 26% respectively, over the 2014 BCS National Championship Megacast – the first multi-network telecast of this kind, which attracted 26.2 milion viewers and a 14.8 rating. Television ratings for ESPN Classic, and ESPN Goal Line, which were part of the CFP Megacast, are not available.
The “CFP Megacast” on WatchESPN, which included five unique variations on ESPN3 in addition to the networks’ simulcasts – combined to attract 1.41 million unique viewers, 106,300,000 minutes viewed and average minute audience of 475,000. The usage represents an increase of 82% (773,000 unique viewers), 101%(52,900,000 minutes viewed) and 88%(252,000 average audience over the 2014 BCS National Championship Megacast.
“The inaugural College Football Playoff was a resounding success by all measures,” said John Skipper, ESPN President. “Fans responded in record numbers across television and digital platforms. It’s been a great first year and we look forward to the opportunity to build upon the excitement as we continue our long-term commitment to this tremendous event.”