ESPN’s telecast of the Tostitos Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship – a last-second 22-19 Auburn victory over Oregon — posted a 16.1 overnight metered market rating, according to Nielsen, the highest in the history of cable television (records go back to 2001). The previous high was 14.4 for an ESPN Monday Night Football game – New England at New Orleans on November 30, 2009. The 16.1 overnight rating is higher than two of the previous six BCS title games (2008 – 15.6, 2005 – 14.6), and spurred ESPN to “win the night” among all networks, broadcast or cable.
The game drew huge audiences in the teams’ markets – Birmingham, Ala. (67.0) and Portland, Ore. (37.5). Rounding out the top five were Nashville (28.8), New Orleans (28.6), and Knoxville (27.7).
The telecast likely will become the most-viewed program in the history of cable television, once fast national ratings become available this afternoon. The current top spot is another ESPN MNF contest, Green Bay at Minnesota on October 5, 2009, with an audience of 21,839,000 viewers (P2+) and 15,136,000 homes, based on a 15.3 rating.
Record College Football Audience on ESPN3.com; Huge Success for Digital Platforms
On ESPN3.com, the game was watched by more than 619,000 unique viewers, making it the most unique viewers ever for a college football game on ESPN3.com and it ranks fourth all-time in unique viewers behind three 2010 FIFA World Cup contests (source: Adobe). The previous college football record was last week’s Allstate Sugar Bowl (248,000 viewers), a total that was more than doubled with the Auburn-Oregon matchup.
The BCS National Championship audience also set ESPN3.com records (excluding World Cup) with an average of 173,000 people per minute and close to 42 million minutes consumed (an average of 67 minutes/viewer), making it the third most-watched event ever on the network and third all-time in minutes consumed.
Across ESPN’s digital platforms (ESPN.com, ESPN Mobile Web & ScoreCenter App, and ESPN3.com), January 10 saw 144.6 million total minutes of usage to college football content, an average of over 100,000 users per minute. Highlights for the day include ESPN.com’s 15 million visits, 37.2 million page views and 77.1 million total minutes to college football content, increases of 26%, 33% and 52%, respectively, compared to the day of last year’s BCS National Championship game. Additionally, college football content on the ESPN Mobile Web generated 7.1 million visits (up 60%), 14.5 million page views (up 47%) and 25.9 million total minutes (up 59%).
ESPN & BCS
ESPN’s first year of exclusive coverage of the five BCS matchups comprised ESPN, ESPN Radio and ESPN3.com presenting all five BCS Bowl games with ESPN 3D providing exclusive 3D coverage of the Tositios Fiesta Bowl and Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.
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, and approximately 200 million people tuned in to college football 2010 regular-season coverage on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.