Nielsen’s “Out-of-Home” and Complete Streaming Audience Reporting Results in Even More Impressive College Football Playoff Viewership for ESPN

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Nielsen’s “Out-of-Home” and Complete Streaming Audience Reporting Results in Even More Impressive College Football Playoff Viewership for ESPN

  • College Football Playoff National Championship Increases 1.5 Million Viewers, Finishes with Nearly 30 Million Viewers, and Solidified as Second Most-Watched Cable Program Ever

  • CFP Semifinal at Rose Bowl Game Finishes with More than 28.3 Million Viewers, Vaults to Third Most-Watched Cable Program with Out-of-Home and Streaming Audience of More than 1.5 Million Viewers Included

  • New Year’s Six + National Championship is Most-Watched in System’s Four-Year History

ESPN’s presentation of this season’s College Football Playoff featured two of the most-watched cable telecasts in history, according to Nielsen’s fast nationals reporting which was available less than 24 hours after each game. Now, with Nielsen’s “out-of-home” and complete streaming data reported, resulting in a complete total live audience figure, both the College Football Playoff National Championship and the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game historic audiences have increased their audiences by 1.5 million viewers, further cementing this year’s College Football Playoff presentation as an overwhelming viewership success.

The now finalized Nielsen total live audience for the CFP National Championship, featuring Alabama defeating Georgia in overtime, comes in at 29,932,000 viewers (including out-of-home), up from 28,443,000 viewers reported the day after the game. The nearly 30 million viewers further solidifies the Crimson Tide’s walk-off victory as the second most-watched cable program ever, a ranking it already earned based on the Nielsen fast national reporting on January 9. Among all television programs, both broadcast and cable, over the past year plus, the viewership for this year’s game surpasses nearly all non-NFL postseason programming based on Nielsen reporting.

The final Nielsen total live audience for the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game, where Georgia defeated Oklahoma in overtime, is 28,311,000 viewers (including out-of-home), up from the 26,826,000 viewers reported on Jan. 2. The Nielsen total audience makes this year’s Rose Bowl Game the third-largest cable audience ever reported, increasing its ranking from the fifth most-watched cable telecast based on Nielsen fast national data.

Furthermore, ESPN’s entire presentation of the New Year’s Six plus the CFP National Championship is the most-watched in the system’s four-year history, based on the final Nielsen total live audience. ESPN’s entire postseason schedule, consisting of 35 bowl games plus the CFP National Championship, has increased its average per game audience to 6,079,000 viewers based on final Nielsen total live audience, up from the previously reported 5,682,000 viewers. With the more than 6 million viewers per game, this is now ESPN’s most-watched college football bowl season in at least eight seasons.

“We have always known there was a significant audience watching, that until recently, wasn’t being measured,” said Ed Erhardt, ESPN President of Global Sales and Marketing. “We appreciate Nielsen working with us over the course of the last few years, making ‘Out of Home’ reporting possible for our advertisers and sponsors.”

Said Burke Magnus, ESPN executive Vice President of Programming and Scheduling: “In the immediate aftermath of the games, we were thrilled with this year’s College Football Playoff, and the entire New Year’s Six. Today, that feeling has been magnified. The incredible strength of college football and the deep connection live sports has with fans is further exemplified with the latest audience figures reported by Nielsen.”

Please note: Nielsen launched their syndicated Out-of-Home measurement service in fall 2016; data prior to that is unavailable.

Total live audience includes ESPN’s Nielsen-rated networks: ESPN and ESPN2 for the Rose Bowl Game and ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU for the CFP National Championship. However, Out of home data is only available for ESPN and ESPN2


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

Derek Volner

I currently lead ESPN’s NFL Communications, including Monday Night Football, NFL Draft and studio programming. Previously, I did the same for ESPN’s vast college football portfolio. I have been with ESPN since 2013.
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