The Clemson-Alabama rematch in the College Football Playoff National Championship got very dramatic in the 4th quarter with the Tigers pulling out a last-second win over the Crimson Tide. By drawing ratings from ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU, the overnight Nielsen rating from the top markets drew a 15.3 number.

That’s down 4% from the combined 16.0 that the networks drew last year. And as Paulsen at Sports Media Watch points out, it’s the second-lowest overnight for a college football national championship game since 2005. ESPNews, ESPN Classic, ESPN Goal Line and SEC Network are not rated and not included in the combined number.

While the numbers were down from last year, ESPN can hang its hat that the National Championship Game set another streaming record with an average audience of 710,000 viewers and 2,413,000 unique viewers watching 182,575,000 minutes. All of those are new standards for a college football game on any ESPN network.

The top-rated market for the game was Birmingham, AL, however, there’s one caveat:

Here are the top ten markets for the game:

1. Birmingham — 53.6
2. Greenville — 35.1
3. Atlanta — 28.2
4. Nashville — 26.6
5. Knoxville — 25.8
6. Charlotte — 23.6
7. Jacksonville — 23.2
8. New Orleans — 22.9
9. Columbus — 22.5
10. Memphis — 22.3

Since the Megacast began in 2014, the 15.3 combined overnight is the lowest. The highest overnight for the Megacast was in 2015 for Ohio State-Oregon which drew a stunning 18.9 number.

So why the drop in the number from last year? Could be Alabama fatigue or there wasn’t much buzz going into the game in certain sections of the country. Whatever the reason, since 2015, the National Championship Game has been on a downward trend since the peak for Ohio State-Oregon.

The final numbers should be out later today and we’ll have the viewership numbers then.

[Sports Media Watch]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.