IRVING, TX – OCTOBER 16: A detail view of the College Football Playoff logo shown during a press conference on October 16, 2013 in Irving, Texas. Condoleezza Rice, Stanford University professor and former United States Secretary of State, was chosen to serve as one of the 13 members that will select four teams to compete in the first playoff at the end of the 2014 season. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Call it a residual effect from a lackluster bowl season or perhaps there was no advance buzz about Clemson and Alabama being more of a regional matchup than last year’s Oregon-Ohio State game, but the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship game fared well below the inaugural contest in the overnight ratings.

Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand has the skinny on the numbers:

Now that is for ESPN only. The other networks which were part of the Megacast are not factored in, but we do have the overnight for the combined number through Sports TV Ratings.

Last year’s CFP National Championship game garnered an 18.5 overnight on ESPN only and as we know, drew a record cable audience of just under 34 million viewers and a final rating of 18.2 on ESPN only and 18.6 for the entire megacast.

With the combined 16.0 overnight, it’ll likely translate to neighborhood of 29 million viewers, which is still fantastic and in the neighborhood of this past weekend’s NFL Wild Card games (average audience of 32.6 million).

Still, the lower numbers for the entire CFP and New Year’s Six bowl games has to be a disappointment for sponsors who had bought time hoping for a better result.

The final numbers for the College Football Playoff National Championship will be released later today and once they’re made public, we’ll update this post.

UPDATED: As expected, the final numbers finished down from 2015. The total number for the ESPN Megacast was over 26 million, down significantly from the 33.9 million people who watched Ohio State-Oregon last year:

For the ESPN Mothership only, the rating was 14.7 and the viewership averaged 25,667,00. Based on what happened during bowl season and for the College Football Playof semifinals, the lower numbers were expected, but off of last year’s record numbers, they still have to be a disappointment for all parties involved from ESPN, the College Football Playoff and sponsors.

One silver lining for ESPN is that this year’s CFP National Championship Game is the most-watched program on the network since last year’s game.

[John Ourand]

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

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