ESPN Press Room U.S.

College Football Playoff Semifinals Average 19 Million Viewers, ESPN’s Third-Most Watched Day on Record

This year’s College Football Playoff Semifinals started the New Year off strong, registering 19 million average viewers between the two matchups, roughly in line with last year’s CFP Semifinals. The CFP Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Capital One (Alabama vs. Notre Dame: 18,893,000) and the CFP Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl (Clemson vs. Ohio State: 19,149,000) are the top telecasts on cable since the 2020 CFP National Championship Game, making the semifinal round the best non-NFL sporting event across any network since LSU’s victory in the 2020 national title game. Additionally, the Rose Bowl Game was up 8 percent year-over-year compared to the early semifinal in 2020.

Friday, Jan. 1 was ESPN’s third-most watched day ever. One quarter of all people watching television on New Year’s Day were watching the CFP Semifinals during the game windows. That share of the TV audience was up 5 percent from the last time the Semis aired on New Year’s Day, and ranks as the third-best Semifinal TV share of the CFP Era. In total, the CFP Semifinals reached 40.8 million viewers across ESPN platforms.

Peach Bowl and Orange Bowl Each See Rise in Viewership from 2020 Editions
The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (Georgia vs. Cincinnati) drew 8,727,000 viewers across all MegaCast feeds, the most-viewed NY6 Bowl Game featuring a Group of 5 team of the CFP Era, up 39 percent from last year’s comparable semifinal lead-in game (Memphis-Penn State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic) and up 3 percent from the Peach Bowl in Year 4 (UCF-Auburn), which led into the CFP Semis on New Year’s Day.

The Capital One Orange Bowl (Texas A&M vs. UNC) averaged 7,577,000 viewers, up 25 percent from last year’s Orange Bowl (Florida vs. Virginia).

New Year’s Six Games P2+
CFP Semi at the Allstate Sugar Bowl: Ohio State vs. Clemson 19,149,000
CFP Semi at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One: Notre Dame vs. Alabama 18,893,000
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Georgia vs. Cincinnati 8,727,000
Capital One Orange Bowl: Texas A&M vs. North Carolina 7,577,000
Playstation Fiesta Bowl: Oregon vs. Iowa State 6,679,000
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Florida vs. Oklahoma 5,805,000
AVERAGE 10,966,000

Hometowns Highlight Top Local Markets
Birmingham was the top market for the Semifinals, leading the way in the local markets for the first CFP Semifinal. Birmingham’s 42.1 rating across both games was the best CFP Semifinal average for a single market in three years. Columbus was the second-ranked market for the Semifinals, ranking in the top spot for Ohio State’s Semifinal game. Additionally, Cleveland was up 5 percent from the same Ohio State-Clemson matchup last year and up 7 percent year-over-year across the two games. The top 10 local markets for each semifinal and for both games combined:

Semi #1: ALA-ND Semi #2: OSU-CLEM Semi #1 and #2 Combined
Rk Market Rtg Rk Market Rtg Rk Market Rtg
1 Birmingham 46.2 1 Columbus, OH 40.1 1 Birmingham 42.1
2 Columbus, OH 23.6 2 Birmingham 38.6 2 Columbus, OH 32.5
3 Greenville 19.7 3 Cleveland 28.3 3 Cleveland 22.1
4 Knoxville 18.0 4 Dayton 25.4 4 Greenville 21.0
5 Atlanta 18.0 5 Greenville 22.1 5 Dayton 20.3
6 New Orleans 16.6 6 Cincinnati 17.9 6 New Orleans 17.3
7 Oklahoma City 15.3 7 New Orleans 17.9 7 Atlanta 17.3
8 Tulsa 15.1 8 Atlanta 16.7 8 Knoxville 17.1
9 Cleveland 14.9 9 Knoxville 16.3 9 Cincinnati 16.4
10 Cincinnati 14.6 10 Nashville 15.7 10 Oklahoma City 15.0