CFP finale delivers viewership gains from '21, but second-lowest to date

By Austin Karp
With 22.6 million viewers across ESPN channels, Georgia-Alabama was the second-least-watched college football title game since '05GETTY IMAGES

Georgia's 33-18 win over Alabama delivered a year-over-year audience uptick for the CFP National Championship, but historically, the game is among the smaller audiences for a college football title game since the BCS era began in '99. A close game for much of Monday night, Georgia-Alabama delivered 22.6 million viewers across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. That's up 21% from a CFP/BCS-era low of 18.7 million viewers for Alabama's win over Ohio State ('Bama led 35-17 at halftime, and that night saw continued upticks for cable news networks just after the Capitol insurrection). Excluding that record-low number in '21, UGA's win this year is the least-watched college football title game since '05, when ABC averaged 21.4 million viewers for USC's 55-19 win over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl (BCS title game). Georgia-Alabama this year ranks as the fourth-lowest audience among all CFP/BCS title games. In '18, when Alabama beat UGA in OT, the same matchup delivered 28.4 million viewers.

STILL WILL RANK HIGH FOR YEAR: Georgia-Alabama still will rank very high on the list of '22's most-watched telecasts. The audience of 22.6 million viewers would have ranked in the top 30 among all telecasts on U.S. TV in '21 (sports or otherwise). Last season's title game ranked No. 49 even at a record low. When combined with the New Year's Six bowl audiences, the seven-game lineup is up big from '20. Among non-NY6 bowls, 29 of ESPN’s 31 games this season surpassed 1 million viewers, 18 drew over 2 million and nine topped 3 million. The 31 non-NY6 bowls averaged 2.6 million viewers across ESPN networks, up 12% from last season.

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