The Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks have unseated Monday Night Football as the top telecast in cable history.
ESPN's Jan. 10 coverage of Auburn's 22-19 win over Oregon in the Bowl Championship Series national championship game drew a medium-record 27.3 million watchers, according to Nielsen data. That shattered the previous mark held by the sports programmer's coverage of the Oct. 5, 2009 MNF contest between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers of 21.8 million.
According to fast national data, Auburn-Oregon was viewed in some 17.7 million homes and generated a 17.8 fast national cable rating.
The game's15.3 national is higher than four of the past 12 BCS title tilts, while its 27.3 million viewers ranks higher than eight of the dozen, according to ESPN officials. Among guys 18 to 34, Monday's game was higher rated than 11 of the 12 games from 1999 through 2010.
The record results were expected given that Tigers-Duck produced a 16.1 overnight rating, the best-ever mark for the medium, according Nielsen, with data dating back to 2001.
The 16.1 overnight eclipsed the 14.4 mark delivered by ESPN's Monday Night Football matchup of the New Orleans Saints-New England Patriots on Nov. 30, 2009. On a national level that game translated into some 21.4 million viewers, the second-largest cable audience ever, behind the aforementioned 21.8 million for Viking-Packers in Brett Favre's return against the squad he launched his hall of fame career. That contest averaged 15.1 million homes, a 13.2 national and a 15.3 cable rating..
ESPN officials said the game's 16.1 overnight rating was higher than two of the previous six BCS title games -- a 15.6 for LSU and Ohio State in 2008 and a 14.6 for USC and Oklahoma in 2005 -- and gave the sports programmer the night among all networks, broadcast or cable.
Despite the 16.1 overnight mark, Auburn-Oregon was off 12% from the 18.2 overnight for last year's BCS championship game in which Alabama topped Texas and 5% behind the 17.0 for the 2009 contest in which Florida beat Oklahoma.
The Jan. 10 telecast drew huge audiences in the teams' markets - Birmingham, Ala. (67.0) and Portland, Ore. (37.5). Rounding out the top five were Nashville (28.8), New Orleans (28.6), and Knoxville (27.7).