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Ratings: College Football Championship Game on ESPN Down 15%, Still Huge

Alabama-Clemson Thriller Likely Drew Nearly 30 Million Viewers

ABC’s “The Bachelor” and special off-night repeats of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” were the top draws among young adults on the broadcast networks Monday, a night that was dominated by ESPN’s coverage of college football’s championship game. Also of note, NBC’s new comedy “Superstore” held up pretty well in its second week, down about 12%, while there was no Trump bump in late-night for the network’s “Tonight Show.”

While more detailed numbers for the football game between Alabama and Clemson will be released later today by Nielsen, it averaged a 15.8 overnight household rating — down 15% from last year but expected to come in with an average audience of nearly 30 million viewers in the finals. This year’s game was a thriller, won 45-40 by Alabama, but featured two teams from the same part of the country. A year ago, the more geographically desirable Ohio State-Oregon matchup averaged a whopping 34.1 million viewers in the finals after nabbing an 18.5 in the overnights.

According to ESPN, the gross overnight average for its “megacast” of the game, which included ancillary coverage on ESPN2 and other networks, was 16.0. This puts it ahead of the final three BCS National Championships (2012, 2013 and 2014) and stands as the No. 3-rated telecast in network history.

Looking at Monday’s broadcast action, ABC’s “The Bachelor” (1.9 rating/6 share in adults 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall) was down 0.3 from its premiere but up a tick from the 1.8 it did on the comparable night against football a year ago. It led among the broadcasters from 8 to 10 p.m. in most key demos. It was followed by “Bachelor Live” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall), which was on par with its premiere of the previous week.

At NBC, “Superstore” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 5.4 million viewers overall) was down 0.2 from its week-ago prelim and 0.3 below its final average (1.8), a pretty good hold considering it opposed football coverage and tough comedy competition from CBS’ repeat “Big Bang Theory.” Also for NBC, “Telenovela” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 3.6 million viewers overall) was down 0.3 from its premiere, and “The Biggest Loser” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.5 million viewers overall) shed a tenth from its premiere.

CBS aired “Big Bang Theory” at both 8 (1.9/6 in 18-49, 8.9 million viewers overall) and 8:30 (1.9/6 in 18-49, 8.3 million viewers overall), which matched the week-ago demo average for a firstrun “Supergirl.” It was followed by repeats of “Scorpion” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 7.4 million viewers overall) and “NCIS: Los Angeles” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall).

Fox aired a special repeat of “MasterChef Junior” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 2.5 million viewers overall), while CW went with encores of “Whose Line Is It Anyway” (0.4/1 in 18-49, 1.2 million viewers overall) and “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (0.4/1 in 18-49, 1.3 million viewers overall).

In late-night, NBC’s “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” dominated as usual with a 2.5 household rating/7 share in Nielsen’s metered markets, followed by CBS’ “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (1.9/4) and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (1.6/4). In adults 18-49, “Tonight” (0.9 rating) beat the combined scores of “Late Show” (0.4) and “Kimmel” (0.4). These are fairly typical numbers, though, and perhaps reflect the extra competition from the football game, which aired until about 12:15 a.m. in the East.

Last night’s numbers were well below when Trump previously appeared on “Tonight Show” on Sept. 11  (3.6/9 in households, 1.3 rating in adults 18-49), which marked Fallon’s highest Friday-night numbers in 18 months.

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