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Ratings Roundup: ESPN's CFP National Championship Up 13%; NFL Wild Card Games See Big Dip

12/01/2018

Ratings Roundup: ESPN's CFP National Championship Up 13%; NFL Wild Card Games See Big Dip By Jason Dachman, Chief Editor

Friday, January 12, 2018 - 8:00 am

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Ratings roundup is a rundown of ratings news from the past week and is derived from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week's edition, ESPN's CFP National Championship ranks as the second most-watched cable telecast in history, The NFL's Wild Card Game ratings were down across the board, ESPN matches its best regular season rating in nearly two years with Celtics-Cavaliers, ESPN and Sportsnet report their year-end viewership numbers, and First Take gets off to a huge start to 2018 for ESPN.

ESPN's presentation of the Georgia-Alabama College Football Playoff National Championship averaged 28,443,000 viewers on its Nielsen-rated networks (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU as part of its MegaCast production), up 13% from last year and good for the second most-watched cable telecast in history. The game was also up 9% from ESPN's MegaCast presentation (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU) of the second CFP National Championship (January 11, 2016). For Georgia-Alabama, the ESPN-only telecast averaged 27,383,000 million viewers. The College Football Playoff Era has delivered ESPN the four biggest audiences in cable history and seven of the top 10 with the 2015 CFP National Championship (Oregon/Ohio State) atop the leaderboard with 33,917,000 viewers.

The audience peaked at 30,759,000 viewers late in the first half (9:30 - 10 p.m.) and more than 28.4 million viewers were watching as Alabama scored its game-winning, national championship-winning touchdown

Birmingham was the No. 1 rated market, with an astounding 57.6 overnight. Atlanta also had a record-breaking audience. All market information was distributed this morning and can be found here.

ESPN's entire presentation of the three game College Football Playoff averaged an 26,266,000 viewers, up 21% from last year's three-game presentation. In addition to the championship game, each of the two CFP Semifinals were also up year-over-year individually as well.

This Season's New Year's Six CFP National Championship to Become Most-Watched in Current Era

Factoring in the entire New Year's Six, the seven games (New Year's Six CFP National Championship) averaged over 17 million viewers, the best ever in the four years of the new system. The seven-game average was up 10% from last year's same seven games and 25% from the 2015 season's slate.

ESPN's presentation of the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game (Oklahoma/Georgia) on New Year's Day delivered an audience of 26,826,000 viewers (ESPN ESPN2), up 39% from last season's first CFP Semifinal on the same two networks and 71% from the 2015 season's first CFP Semifinal, also on ESPN and ESPN2.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl between Clemson and Alabama (9 p.m.) averaged 21,117,000 viewers, (ESPN and ESPN2), up 10% from last season's second CFP Semifinal, also on ESPN and ESPN2, and 13% from the 2015's season second CFP Semifinal on the same two networks.

This season's two CFP Semifinals averaged 24,590,000 viewers, up 27% from last year and 44% from the 2015 season. Individually, both games rank as the third and fourth most-viewed CFP Semifinals ever, trailing only the two record-breaking CFP Semifinals from the inaugural year.

The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl between UCF and Auburn (12:30 p.m., Jan 1 on ESPN) delivered 8,377,00 viewers, the most-watched non-CFP Semifinal Peach Bowl in the New Year's Six Era. The game was up 49% from the 2015 season game and 67% from the 2014 season game. The 2016 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl was a CFP Semifinal.

This year, all non-CFP Semifinal New Year's Six Games set new viewership records. The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Capital One Orange Bowl and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl delivered their most-watched game of the New Year's Six era, except for the year their game was a CFP Semifinal.

NFL Wild Card Round Sees Ratings Dip

Saturday's Falcons-Rams NFC Wild Card had a 12.8 rating and 22.8 million viewers on NBC, down 14% in ratings and 15% in viewership from last year (Lions-Seahawks: 14.8, 26.9M) and down 27% in both measures from 2015 on CBS (Steelers-Bengals: 17.5, 31.2M). Including streaming, it had 23.0 million - still down 15% from last year (27.1M). (SMW)

ESPN Concludes College Football Post Season Up 11%

In addition, The Outback Bowl (Michigan/South Carolina) had an audience of 5,050,000 viewers, up 79% from the 2015 Outback Bowl, the last time the game aired on ESPN2. It is the second most-viewed Outback Bowl on ESPN2. And the Citrus Bowl (LSU/Notre Dame) had an audience of 8,713,000 viewers, up 36% from last year's game (LSU vs. Louisville). Overall, ESPN's postseason schedule, consisting of 35 games plus the CFP National Championship, averaged 5,682,000 viewers, up 11% from last year's similar slate.

NFL Wild Card Games See Big Dip

Sunday's Panthers-Saints NFC Wild Card Game had a 17.5 rating and 31.2 million viewers on FOX, down 18% in ratings and 21% in viewership from Giants-Packers last year (21.3, 39.3M) and down 20% in both measures from Green Bay-Washington in 2016 (21.8, 38.9M). The 17.5 rating is the lowest for the late Sunday Wild Card game since Titans-Chargers on CBS ten years ago (16.7). (SMW)

Sunday's Bills-Jaguars AFC Wild Card had a 15.15 rating and 25.3 million viewers on CBS, down 13% in ratings and 15% in viewership from last year (Dolphins-Steelers: 17.5, 29.9M) and down 28% in both measures from 2015 on NBC (Seahawks-Vikings: 21.0, 35.4M). The Jaguars' win was the lowest rated and least-watched Sunday Wild Card game since Ravens-Dolphins in 2009 (15.0, 23.4M). (SMW)

Saturday'
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2018/01/12/ratings-roundup-espns-cfp-natio...
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