12:33pm PT by Michael O'Connell
NCAA Championship Game Gives ESPN Record 33 Million Viewers
After breaking records with the first round of the College Football Playoff, the NCAA (and cable) hit new highs on Monday night. A record 33.3 million viewers tuned in to ESPN's coverage of the championship game between Oregon and Ohio State.
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All told, the debut of the College Football Playoff format comprised the three top programs in cable history — with 28 million tuning in to the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl games on New Year's Day.
It's an incredibly auspicious start to ESPN's landmark 12-year, $7.3 billion deal to air the playoffs and the championship game. And it comes after an especially good 2014 for the Worldwide Leader. The year marked its first atop all other cable channels, besting every other network in primetime viewership and adults 18-49.
Year over year, Monday's victory for Ohio State marked a huge jump from 2014's championship game — the last of the BCS era. Viewership for this year's game increased 31 percent over the 25.6 million that tuned in to last year's Auburn-Florida State championship game.
"The inaugural College Football Playoff was a resounding success by all measures," said ESPN president John Skipper. "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."