College Football Playoff National Championship Game draws historic TV ratings

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jan 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-14 17:51:17-05

Cardale Jones made the world believe a Buckeye can soar.

So, too, did the TV ratings. The Ohio State Buckeyes' 42-20 spit-roasting of the Oregon Ducks Monday night was the highest-rated cable program in history.

More than 33 million people watched the first College Football Playoff National Championship Game on ESPN. Ads sold for $1 million apiece.

Jones, the third-string Ohio State quarterback, devoured the Ducks with his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame and a little help from running back Ezekiel Elliott.

ESPN President John Skipper said it was a great first year.

"The inaugural College Football Playoff was a resounding success by all measures," Skipper said in a statement.

Fans rewarded the new playoff format with a 28 percent increase in viewership compared to 2014, when 25.5 million people saw Florida State beat Auburn. Back then, computer algorithms and human polls decided who got to play.

The second and third most-watched cable programs in history are this year's College Football Playoff semifinals with 28 million viewers each.

While ESPN’s numbers are historic, they fall short of broadcast TV viewership. The 2006 Rose Bowl was seen by 35.6 million on ABC, which is owned by Disney along with ESPN.

And Super Bowl XLVIII – the highest rated TV program ever – drew 112.2 million people to see the Seahawks blow out the Broncos.

For comparison, there are about 320 million people in the United States.

See the highlights in this Newsy video:

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk.