The inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship game did not disappoint Ohio State fans or ESPN executives on Monday night. The Buckeyes routed the favored Oregon Ducks 42-20, while ESPN garnered the highest ratings in its 35 years and the best ever in the history of cable television.
The 18.5 overnight rating represents a 21% increase over last year’s 15.3 rating for the BCS National Championship game between Florida State University and Auburn. The CFPNC game replaced the much maligned BCS title game, hoping to deliver a fairer determination of the best team in college football.
Moreover, the newly formatted playoff championship game exceeded the previously top-rated BCS title game between Auburn and Oregon in 2011, which enjoyed a 16.1 overnight rating.
Columbus, Ohio, delivered the highest rating in the country with 51.2 while Oregon came in fourth nationwide with a 37.6. Yahoo Sports listed the top ten markets: Columbus, Dayton (43.8), Cleveland (41.3), Portland, Birmingham (36.1), Cincinnati (26.5), Jacksonville (25.7), Knoxville (25.5), Greenville (24.1), and Atlanta (23.0).
Aside from the difference in the championship format, not having Brent Musburger call the game was also a change. The veteran broadcaster’s voice sweetened big-game teleplays for ESPN and ABC for over twenty years. Musburger now calls weekly games on SEC Network with former University of Florida quarterback Jesse Palmer.
Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit called Monday night’s championship game.