The matchup everybody wanted to see produced ratings ABC thought it could only dream of.
Wednesday night’s college football championship game, which saw the Texas Longhorns score in the final 30 seconds to defeat the USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl, averaged 35.63 million viewers to stand as the most-watched title contest in 19 years — and the top telecast on any net this season.
It capped a great three days of college football for ABC, which was the exclusive home to the Bowl Championship Series for the last time.
According to in-home viewing estimates from Nielsen, the Rose Bowl averaged a whammo 12.8 rating/33 share in adults 18-49 — up a big 73% over last year’s lopsided USC victory over Oklahoma. It did a 45 share in key male demos.
No championship game in college football has rated higher since the 1987 matchup between Penn State and Miami.
ABC had its best Wednesday showing in nearly six years, beating the other five broadcast networks combined by 12% in adults 18-49 (11.9/30 vs. 10.6/26) and by 6.8 million viewers overall (34.7 million vs. 27.9 million).
By comparison, no World Series game has drawn a larger aud since Game 7 in 2001, no NBA Finals game has fared better since Game 6 in 1998 and no NFL wildcard game has rated higher in six years.
In adults 18-49, no telecast on any net has rated higher since the season finale of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” last May. And no show has drawn a larger overall aud since the Academy Awards last March, also on the Alphabet.
ABC Sports also enjoyed strong ratings for the two Bowl Championship Series games leading up to Wednesday’s title game, based on final Nielsen nationals.
On Monday night, West Virginia’s wild victory over Georgia averaged a 4.8 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and 13.68 million viewers overall, 17% better in 18-49 than last year’s comparable Fiesta Bowl (4.1/12 for Utah-Pittsburgh).
And on Tuesday night, Penn State’s triple-overtime triumph over Florida State in the Orange Bowl delivered an impressive 6.3/18 in 18-49 and 18.65 million viewers overall, a 31% improvement from the comparable Sugar Bowl game of a year ago (4.8/12 for Auburn-Virginia Tech).
Beginning next season, Fox Sports will carry three of the Bowl Championship Series games (Fiesta, Orange and Sugar) while ABC continues to carry the Rose Bowl.