College Football Playoff viewership on ESPN rises slightly
Both New Year's Eve College Football Playoff semifinals drew a bigger television and online audience than the games last season, but there were still far fewer people watching the games than when they were played on New Year's Day two seasons ago.
The Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl semifinals on Saturday together drew total live audience of 19.7 million and an 11.0 overnight TV rating, ESPN said Sunday. According to the network, the total viewers increased by 14 percent from last season's semifinals, which also were played on New Year's Eve.
Alabama's 24-7 Peach Bowl victory against Washington, which kicked off around 3:15 p.m. ET, drew an 11.5 overnight rating for ESPN and ESPN2 and 19.8 million total viewers, including those who streamed the game online. The total audience increased 24 percent compared to last season's early semifinal, Oklahoma-Clemson.
Clemson's 31-0 win over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, which kicked off around 7:15 p.m. ET, had a total live audience of 19.6 million and got a 10.5 overnight rating, ESPN said. The audience increased 4 percent from the late time slot last season, when Alabama shut out Michigan State.
ESPN said the TV-only audiences were up 23 percent for the early game and 3 percent for the late game, and both games set streaming records. Both games, like last season, were blowouts, making it difficult to reach the marks set in the playoff's first year.
"It's nice to know that more people watched the semifinals this year than last year," said Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff. "Nice to know that the format change we made last year