Given how exciting last night's game was (::cough::) ESPN should be breathing a sigh of relief that the game was only down ~11% from last year's 27.3 million.
via press release:
BCS National Championship: Cable’s Second Biggest Audience of All Time
ESPN Wins the Night; Record College Football Audience for ESPN’s Digital Platforms
ESPN’s telecast of the Allstate Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship – Alabama’s 21-0 shutout of LSU -- posted a 16.2 fast national household coverage rating, according to Nielsen, representing an average of 16,072,000 households, the second highest of any program in the history in cable television (records go back to 1987). The average of 24,214,000 viewers (P2+) was also second best in cable. It also is ESPN’s second-highest rating of all time.
The only telecast in cable television history with a larger audience was last year’s BCS Championship on ESPN (17,718,000 homes and 27,316,000 people, based on a 17.8 rating), a 22-19 Auburn victory over Oregon decided by a field goal as time expired.
The game was the most-viewed telecast of the night in all of television, broadcast or cable, and powered ESPN to win the night among all networks.
The programming leading into and following the game performed well. BCS Showcase (8:15-30 p.m. ET) earned a 7.7 metered market rating while BCS Post-Game (11:30 p.m. – midnight) drew a 7.9.
The game earned notable local ratings in a variety of markets:
- Birmingham averaged a 61.2 rating, best of all metered markets, the second highest-rated bowl game on the ESPN networks in this market, behind only the 2011 National Championship (67.0; Auburn/Oregon)
- New Orleans averaged a 53.3 overnight rating, second best in the nation and the highest-rated bowl game ever on the ESPN networks in this market
- In addition, Austin (20.5), Greensboro (17.3), Greenville (24.5), Houston (16.2), Jacksonville (23.0), Memphis (25.8), Orlando (16.6), and Providence (9.6) delivered their highest-rating for a bowl game on the ESPN networks in the 2012 BCS National Championship.
- Records date back to 2000
Record College Football Audience on ESPN’s Digital Platforms
Across all WatchESPN platforms – computer, smartphone, tablet, Xbox – the average minute audience for the BCS National Championship game totaled 261,000 people, up 40 percent over last year’s game, and a record for college football on ESPN’s digital platforms. More than 523,000 people watched the game on WatchESPN.com, generating 39.6 million minutes and an average minute audience of 227,000 people, which is up 20 percent compared to last year.
For the five BCS Bowl Games on WatchESPN.com, the average minute audience was 114,000 (up 27 percent over last year). For the entire bowl season, fans spent 6.9 million minutes per game on WatchESPN.com for an average time spent of 59 minutes per game, up 31 percent and 28 percent vs. 2011, respectively. ESPN’s college football content on the mobile web reached 872,000 fans and more than three million page views during the bowl season, up 15 percent and 11 percent respectively, compared to a year ago.
ESPN & the BCS
ESPN's second year of exclusive coverage of the five BCS matchups included all five games on ESPN, ESPN Radio and ESPN3 with ESPN Deportes and ESPN 3D also televising the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.
In addition, ESPN provided extensive on-site studio programming and reports across multiple shows and platforms, dedicated web pages for each bowl, re-airs of classic BCS games, international telecasts of all five games, encore presentations of the National Championship and more. ESPN's year-round commitment to college football includes more than 400 games, culminating with 33 bowls.