TV ratings for College Football Playoff championship game fall to record low

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Jan. 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive is on the field during the first quarter of the College Football Playoff National Championship between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Ohio State Buckeyes at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. on January 11, 2021.

The College Football Playoff final between Ohio State and Alabama drew the smallest television audience for a national championship game since at least 1999.

ESPN announced 18.7 million people tuned in for the game across all of its platforms.

It was lower than the 2005 Orange Bowl, which drew 21.4 million viewers for Southern California’s 55-19 rout of Oklahoma and had remained the least-watched Playoff or Bowl Championship Series title game for more than a decade, according to figures kept by Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch.

The presence of the Buckeyes in Monday night’s championship game once offered hope for bigger ratings after their previous title game appearance in the Playoff era six years ago drew 34.1 million viewers. But it was a similarly lopsided matchup as Ohio State fell to the top-seeded Crimson Tide in a 52-24 defeat.

Ratings across college football had declined this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, which caused disruptions that ranged from delayed starts to the season to canceled games and prominent players being sidelined.

Last season's championship game, which saw Louisiana State turn in a 42-25 win over Clemson, had 25.6 million viewers, leading to a 27% year-over-year decline.