College Football Playoffs Set Ratings Records at ESPN

The back-to-back semifinals score cable's top two audiences in history
AP Images
The Rose Bowl

The new College Football Playoffs are working out quite nicely for ESPN. The network broke cable ratings records on New Year's Day with back-to-back semifinals.

Each of the matchups — Oregon's win over Florida State at the Rose Bowl and Ohio State's victory against Alabama at the Sugar Bowl — now rank as the largest audiences in cable history. The Rose Bowl averaged 28.16 million viewers at 5 p.m. ET, while the Sugar Bowl eked just past it with 28.27 million viewers.

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"These record-setting numbers illustrate the enormous fan interest in college football and the wide-ranging appeal of the new College Football Playoff format," said ESPN executive vp programming and production John Wildhack. "We are excited to build upon this success when we showcase the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship on ESPN on January 12."

That championship game takes the place of the old BCS final, which annually ranked as cable's biggest broadcast of the year.

Streaming also played out well for both of the playoff games. The app WatchESPN logged an average 864,000 viewers on Thursday.
 

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