Monday night’s College Football Playoff title game between top-ranked Georgia and No. 3 TCU was the least watched FBS championship since the Bowl Championship Series era started 24 years ago, according to a report by Sports Business Journal.
Approximately 17.2 million viewers tuned in to watch the Bulldogs drub the Horned Frogs 65-7. The game was televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU — the three networks that have carried the CFP title game in each of the last nine seasons.
Last season’s final between Georgia and Alabama brought in 22.6 million viewers, and the previous low was 18.7 million, which set when Alabama met Ohio State to cap the pandemic-ridden 2021 season.
The majority of viewers (16.6 million) tuned into ESPN for coverage of this season’s championship game, while 483,000 turned to ESPN2 and another 114,000 went to ESPNU. All three of those figures are down from last year, when ESPN pulled in an audience of 22.3 million and ESPN2 and ESPNU had 158,000 and 148,000 viewers, respectively.
Despite the record-low audiences for the title game, ESPN saw a 9 percent increase in viewership for the combined championship/semifinal matchups. No. 4 Ohio State faced the Bulldogs while No. 2 Michigan clashed with TCU in the semis, and those two games — paired with the final — brought in 20.9 million viewers after 18.9 had tuned in for each of the past two seasons.
Unlike the CFP final, the BCS final was only shown on one station. ABC carried coverage of the game for the first eight seasons, and Fox carried it for three before ABC took over again for Alabama’s game against Texas in 2010. ESPN then provided the lone broadcast for the final four BCS championship games ahead of the CFP era.
–Field Level Media