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More than 26.8 Million Viewers for the CFP Semifinal Rose Bowl Game; Both CFP Semifinal Games up Significantly; New Year’s Six Will Become Most-Watched in System’s History


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  • CFP Semifinal at Rose Bowl Game up 39%, Simulcast is Fifth Most-Watched Cable Telecast of All-Time
  • CFP Semifinal Allstate Sugar Bowl Delivers More than 21.1 Million Viewers, up 10%
  • Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Delivers Most-Watched, Non-CFP Semifinal Peach Bowl of New Year’s Six Era
  • All Non-Semifinal New Year’s Six Games Set New Records

ESPN’s presentation of the College Football Playoff Semifinals is highlighted by achieving one of cable history’s highest viewerships and earning double-digit year-over-year audience growth for both games. The massive audience for the CFP Semifinals, combined with the record-setting Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Capital One Orange Bowl, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, will result in ESPN delivering the most-watched New Year’s Six ever.

Massive Audience Propels CFP Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game to 39% Audience Increase Year-Over-Year
ESPN’s presentation of the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual featuring a thrilling showdown between Oklahoma and Georgia (5 p.m. ET) on New Year’s Day delivered an audience of 26,826,000 viewers (ESPN +ESPN2), up 39% from last season’s first CFP Semifinal on the same two networks and 71% from the 2015 season’s first CFP Semifinal, also on ESPN and ESPN2. The viewership for the Bulldogs’ last-play, double-overtime victory is comparable to the much-anticipated, record-breaking inaugural CFP Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game (Jan. 1, 2015), (28,164,000 viewers).

Rose Bowl Game Among Cable’s Most-Watched Telecasts of All-Time; College Football Playoff Dominates the Top 5 Most-Watched Cable Programs
The nearly 27 million viewers for the Georgia-Oklahoma Rose Bowl Game simulcast on ESPN and ESPN2 is the fifth most-watched cable telecast of all time. As a result, the College Football Playoff system now represents four of the five most-watched cable telecasts of all time.

Rank Viewership Date Matchup Network
1 33,395,000 1/12/2015 CFP National Championship (Oregon/Ohio State) ESPN
2 28,271,000 1/1/2015 CFP Semifinal Sugar Bowl (Ohio State vs. Alabama) ESPN
3 28,164,000 1/1/2015 CFP Semifinal Rose Bowl (Florida State vs. Oregon) ESPN
4 27,316,000 1/10/2011 BCS National Championship (Oregon vs. Auburn) ESPN
5 26,826,000 1/1/2018 CFP Semifinal Rose Bowl (Georgia vs. Oklahoma) ESPN/ESPN2

List excludes any sustaining telecasts

CFP Semifinal at Allstate Sugar Bowl up Double Digits
The Allstate Sugar Bowl between Clemson and Alabama (9 p.m.) averaged 21,117,000 viewers, (ESPN and ESPN2), up 10% from last season’s second CFP Semifinal, also on ESPN and ESPN2, and 13% from the 2015’s season second  CFP Semifinal on the same two networks.

College Football Playoff Semifinals Up 27% Year-Over-Year
This season’s two CFP Semifinals averaged  24,590,000 viewers, up 27% from last year and 44% from the 2015 season. Individually, both games rank as the third and fourth most-viewed CFP Semifinals ever, trailing only the two record-breaking CFP Semifinals from the inaugural year.

UCF-Auburn Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Posts Most-Watched Non-CFP Semifinal Peach Bowl of New Year’s Six Era
The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl between UCF and Auburn (12:30 p.m., Jan 1 on ESPN) delivered  8,377,00 viewers, the most-watched non-CFP Semifinal Peach Bowl in the New Year’s Six Era. The game was up 49% from the 2015 season game and 67% from the 2014 season game. The 2016 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl was a CFP Semifinal.

New Year’s Six Averages Nearly 15 Million Viewers, will Become Most-Viewed Ever
ESPN’s presentation of the entire New Year’s Six averaged nearly 15 million viewers and will become the most-watched New Year’s Six once streaming audience is fully reported. Currently, this year’s presentation of the six games is up 9% from last year, 24% from the 2015 season.

This year, all non-CFP Semifinal New Year’s Six Games set new viewership records. The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Capital One Orange Bowl, and as previously mentioned, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl delivered their most-watched game of the New Year’s Six era, except for the year their game was a CFP Semifinal.

Additional New Year’s Day Highlights:

  • Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. South Carolina (Noon, ESPN2) had an audience of 5,050,000 viewers, up 79% from the 2015 Outback Bowl, the last time the game aired on ESPN2. It is the second most-viewed Outback Bowl on ESPN2
  • Citrus Bowl Presented by Overton’s: LSU vs. Notre Dame (1 p.m., ABC) had an audience of 8,713,000 viewers, up 36% from last year’s game (LSU vs. Louisville)

Please note: Nielsen reported numbers for all ESPN telecast reflect TV viewing + Streaming audiences on OTT devices (such as Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, gaming consoles and smart TVs). This new system has been used since Sept. 26.  However, based on internal numbers, it is believed that the Rose Bowl Megacast was ESPN’s second-most streamed event ever based on users (third, based on minutes consumed). Official numbers will be available later this week.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl kicked off on ESPN2 and was joined in progress on ESPN at approximately 9:22 p.m. The game was presented on both channels beginning at 9:38 p.m.

Last season’s CFP Semifinal Schedule: Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl at 3 p.m. and PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at 7 p.m. Both games were played on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016

2015 season’s CFP Semifinal Schedule: Capital One Orange Bowl at 4 p.m. and Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at 8 p.m. both games were played on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner