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College Football Playoff Semifinals Continue to Deliver Strong Ratings for ESPN; Rank among Top Cable Presentations of the Year

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  • Capital One Orange Bowl Delivers 10.4 Overnight; Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic 10.3
  • Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Delivers Its Highest-Non Semifinal Overnight of the CFP Era
  • Birmingham is Highest-Rated Market for All Three Games; More than 50% of Market Watches Crimson Tide’s Victory

The College Football Playoff Semifinals delivered strong ratings for ESPN once again, as the Capital One Orange Bowl featuring Alabama’s 45-34 victory over Oklahoma (8 p.m. ET) earned a 10.4 overnight and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, which Clemson controlled and defeated Notre Dame 30-3 (4 p.m.), delivered a 10.3 overnight. The two overnight ratings, which account for ESPN’s MegaCast offering, will finish among the top six highest-rated cable presentations of 2018 – a top six which features all five CFP games that were played in the calendar year (CFP Semifinals on January 1 and CFP National Championship on January 8).

Significant, Early Leads Result in First Half Peak Ratings for Both Games
ESPN earned two of cable’s best overnights of the year despite both games’ ratings peaking in the first half. The Orange Bowl peaked at an 11.8 when Alabama jumped out to a 14-0 lead with more than five minutes to go in the first quarter (8:30-8:45 p.m.), a lead that the Crimson Tide would increase to 31-10 before halftime. The Cotton Bowl peaked at an 11.2 when Clemson scored seconds before halftime, giving the Tigers a 23-3 advantage going into the break (5:30-5:45 p.m.).

CFP Semifinals See Ratings Growth from Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl’s First CFP Semifinals
Both overnights were up from the 2015 season’s CFP Semifinals, the only other time that the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl hosted the CFP Semifinals. This year’s early game was up 5% from 2015 and the late game up 4% from the same year.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Delivers a New High
The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl delivered the bowl’s highest non-Semifinal rating of the CFP era. Florida’s defeat of Michigan (noon) earned a 5.3 overnight, up 4% from last year’s game, which was played directly before the CFP Semifinals, and up 33% from the previously mentioned 2015 year.

Birmingham is No. 1 Local Market for all Three Games; More than 50% of the Market Watched Alabama’s Convincing Victory
Birmingham was the highest-rated market for all three games, including delivering a 51.3 overnight for the Crimson Tide’s victory. The top 10 market for each game:

Capital One Orange Bowl

Rank Market Rating
1 Birmingham 51.3
2 Tulsa 31.5
3 Oklahoma City 30.7
4 Greenville, SC 23.3
5 Nashville 20.5
6 Knoxville 20.2
7 Columbus, 20.2
8 New Orleans 19.9
9 Atlanta 17.4
10 Jacksonville 15.6

 

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

Rank Market Rating
1 Birmingham 31.3
2 Greenville 26.4
3 Oklahoma City 19.7
4 New Orleans 19.5
5 Tulsa 19.0
6 Columbus 18.9
7 Nashville 17.8
8 Knoxville 17.7
9 Dayton 16.6
10 Atlanta 15.9

 

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl  

Rank Market Rating
1 Birmingham 19.3
2 Detroit 14.8
3 Columbus 12.5
4 Jacksonville 11.8
5 Dayton 11.0
6 Tampa-St. Pete 10.7
7 New Orleans 10.6
8 Nashville 10.0
9 Tulsa 9.8
10 Knoxville 9.7

 

ESPN’s MegaCast Presentation Includes ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS; The 2018 Top Cable Lists Includes a Tie at No. 6.

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