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CFP semifinal doubleheader sees viewership low with blowouts

By Austin Karp

Two blowouts led to the least-watched CFP semifinals average yet on New Year’s Eve. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU averaged 16.9 million viewers for Alabama-Cincinnati and Georgia-Michigan on Friday. That’s just below the previous low of 17 million in ’16, which was the last time the semifinals aired on New Year’s Eve. The doubleheader is down 11% from Alabama-Notre Dame and Ohio State-Clemson last season, which aired on New Year’s Day. Georgia-Michigan in primetime averaged 17.2 million viewers in the 7:45pm ET window. Among all “late” games in the CFP doubleheader, that’s the least-watched matchup yet for the CFP. Last season, Ohio State-Clemson averaged 19.1 million. In the early window this season, Alabama-Cincy averaged 16.6 million, marking the least-watched CFP semifinal in any window since Clemson-Oklahoma on New Year’s Eve in ’16 on ESPN/ESPN2 (15.7 million).

CFP semifinals audience trend
DATE BOWL (MATCHUP) NETWORK(S) START (ET) VIEWERS (000)
Friday, December 31, 2021 Cotton: Alabama-Cincinnati ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU 3:41pm 16,647
Friday, December 31, 2021 Orange: Georgia-Michigan ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU 7:41pm 17,192
Friday, January 1, 2021 Rose: Alabama-Notre Dame ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU 4:21pm 18,892
Friday, January 1, 2021 Sugar: Ohio State-Clemson ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU 8:20pm 19,149
Saturday, December 28, 2019 Peach: LSU-Oklahoma ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU 4:20pm 17,011
Saturday, December 28, 2019 Fiesta: Clemson-Ohio State ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU 8:17pm 20,921
Saturday, December 29, 2018 Cotton: Clemson-Notre Dame ESPN/ESPN2 4:10pm 16,809
Saturday, December 29, 2018 Orange: Alabama-Oklahoma ESPN/ESPN2 8:10pm 19,069
Monday, January 1, 2018 Rose: Georgia-Oklahoma ESPN/ESPN2 5:12pm 26,826
Monday, January 1, 2018 Sugar: Alabama-Clemson ESPN/ESPN2 9:22pm 21,117
Saturday, December 31, 2016 Peach: Alabama-Washington ESPN/ESPN2 3:12pm 19,344
Saturday, December 31, 2016 Fiesta: Clemson-Ohio State ESPN/ESPN2 7:10pm 19,237
Thursday, December 31, 2015 Orange: Clemson-Oklahoma ESPN/ESPN2 4:10pm 15,730
Thursday, December 31, 2015 Cotton: Alabama-Michigan State ESPN/ESPN2 8:20pm 18,641
Thursday, January 1, 2015 Rose: Oregon-Florida State ESPN 5:09pm 28,164
Thursday, January 1, 2015 Sugar: Ohio State-Alabama ESPN 8:56pm 28,271
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