National Championship Game delivers lowest ratings in over a decade
The ratings are in from the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. And while at first glance it delivered big numbers for the ESPN networks, they weren’t nearly as impressive as in the past.
Firstly, according to ESPN, the number of viewers who tuned in to the game was 18.7 million, easily the most-watched show on Monday night. That number totals up all of the networks involved in the game’s MegaCast, with ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes, and the SEC Network providing various other ways to watch including the coaches’ film room, hometown radio call, special camera angles and more.
In context, though, the 18.7 million is the least-watched college football title game since 2004, and is far from the over 25.5 million that tuned to ESPN’s MegaCast coverage last year as Joe Burrow and LSU won the title over Trevor Lawrence and Clemson, according to Sports Media Watch.
What’s more, as college football writer Stewart Mandel notes, the CFP national championship rating was lower than either CFP semifinal. According to Sports Media Watch, the Crimson Tide’s win over Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl Game in Arlington, Tex. was watched by just under 18.9 million viewers. The Sugar Bowl between Ohio State and Clemson was the most-watched of the 3 playoff games, bringing in over 19.1 million viewers.
ESPN’s public relations team naturally put a positive spin on the numbers as its release proclaimed the 3 Playoff games the most-watched shows on cable and the most-watched sporting events outside of the NFL since last year’s CFP final. Looking closer, though, the ratings don’t measure up to past years’ title games, and that’s something that ESPN is certainly digging in to.