After a year in which TV ratings declined for many sports events, the College Football Playoff semifinals posted solid viewership numbers.
The Ohio State-Clemson and Alabama-Notre Dame games, both televised by ESPN, averaged about 19 million viewers apiece New Year’s Day.
That roughly was even with the TV audiences for last season’s semifinals, which were played Dec. 28, 2019, but less than for the two previous sets of CFP semis played on a New Year’s Day.
Ohio State’s win over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl averaged 19.15 million viewers, while Alabama’s win over Notre Dame in the relocated Rose Bowl averaged 18.89 million.
Those numbers made the playoff’s semifinals round the most-watched non-NFL sports event on any network since last season’s CFP national championship game.
As ESPN’s lead-in to the semifinals, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl game between Georgia and Cincinnati drew 8.73 million viewers Friday. That was up 39% from the previous season’s corresponding telecast (Penn State versus Memphis in the Cotton Bowl) and up 3% from the Peach Bowl between Central Florida and Auburn on Jan. 1, 2018.
According to data compiled by the website Sports Media Watch, Georgia’s win over Cincinnati was the seventh most-watched telecast of the college football season behind the playoff semifinals, the two Clemson-Notre Dame games, the Alabama-Georgia game and the SEC Championship game.
Collectively, the playoff semifinals and the Peach Bowl made for ESPN’s third most-watched day ever, the network said.
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