Georgia’s 65-7 demolition of TCU in Monday night’s National Championship game ended the 2022 college football season with a thud.
ESPN announced that the game drew 17.2 million viewers, a record-low for the National Championship in the playoff era.
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) January 10, 2023
Expectations were high heading into the game after a pair of electric semifinals. But Georgia was up by ten points at the end of the first quarter and didn’t take their foot off the gas all game. The Bulldogs scored on ten of their 12 possessions, punting to open the second half and taking a knee to end the game.
Viewership peaked in the 8:30 PM quarter hour at 22.365 million viewers, but they began piling out the door less than an hour later.
TCU/Georgia CFP Championship quarter hours (sum of ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU):
8P ET: 20.33M
— Sports TV Ratings (@SportsTVRatings) January 10, 2023
Viewership in that first hour or so was promising, but Georgia’s dominance torched any chance of a strong overall number. Seeing that trend gave me memories of the 2013 BCS Championship between Alabama and Georgia, which peaked in the first hour and sank like a stone afterwards.
Per Austin Karp of the Sports Business Journal, the Field Pass with The Pat McAfee Show alternate broadcast drew 483,000 viewers on ESPN2, and the ESPNU Command Center broadcast contributed 114,000 viewers to the total. 16.626 million viewers watched the traditional broadcast on ESPN.
The breakdown for last night:
ESPN: 16.626 million
— Austin Karp (@AustinKarp) January 10, 2023
This title game takes the mantle of “least-watched in the Playoff or BCS era” from 2021’s Alabama-Ohio State beatdown. That game averaged 18.654 million viewers, but took place as sports viewership was tanking during the pandemic. That trend has ended, and can’t be used as an excuse this time around.