The ratings for the College Football Playoff semifinals were somewhat underwhelming, thanks to a variety of factors. One of those was a lack of competitive games, and while last night’s championship game didn’t deliver one of those, it did offer viewers something they haven’t seen in a long time: Alabama getting absolutely trucked.
As it turns out, that wasn’t quite enough to keep people tuned in throughout the game, as the ratings peaked in the first half.
The College Football Playoff National Championship between Alabama-Clemson on January 7, 2019 (8 p.m. ET) – which featured College Football Playoff’s largest margin of victory for its final game ever (28 points) – delivered cable’s highest overnight in 12 months (January 8, 2018 – January 7, 2019), as Clemson’s victory earned a 14.6 overnight across ESPN’s presentation*. The CFP National Championship rating peaked at a 16.2 overnight in the first half when the Tigers extended their lead to 15 points.
The game opened up looking like it could be a shootout, with Tua Tagavailoa throwing a pick-six and then a deep touchdown, followed by Clemson and Alabama trading touchdowns again after that. Then things went all Clemson’s way, and while things may have peaked in the first half, plenty of people stuck around to see just how bad it got for the Tide.
Through three quarters (8:15-11:15 p.m.), last night’s rating tracked similarly to Clemson and Alabama’s most recent CFP National Championship game in January 2017, despite Clemson extending its lead to 28 points in the third quarter. In the 2017 game, the Tigers trailed by 10 points entering the third quarter before coming back and winning in the final seconds of the game.
That 14.6 overnight isn’t that far off of some prior years, but it does come out near the bottom.
Where Clemson-Alabama IV stacks up: pic.twitter.com/8i5CdsT57X
— Sports Media Watch (@paulsen_smw) January 8, 2019
There are obviously some mitigating factors here. This is the fourth straight year we’ve seen Alabama and Clemson face off in the playoff, and the third championship game. And the rating is only slightly less than the 2017 championship game, which featured a Clemson comeback victory. It’s not the huge ratings win ESPN probably hoped for, but it’s maybe not as bad as “second-lowest in fifteen years” would make it seem, all things considered.