Unsurprisingly, more people watch college football on New Year’s Day than they do on New Year’s Eve.
ESPN said Tuesday that 26.8 million people tuned in to Georgia’s 54-48 double-overtime win over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. The near-27 million figure accounts for people watching the main broadcast on ESPN as well as the auxiliary broadcast with live statistics on ESPN2.
The Sugar Bowl, won by Alabama 24-6 over Clemson, was viewed by an average of just over 21 million people.
The network said the Rose Bowl was the fifth-most watched college football game on ESPN, trailing the three inaugural College Football Playoff games in January of 2015 and the BCS Championship Game between Oregon and Auburn in January of 2011.
Just over 28 million people watched the first two College Football Playoff semifinals.
Not-so-coincidentally, the semifinals for the first CFP were the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl and played on Jan. 1. The semifinals the past two seasons have been played on New Year’s Eve because the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl are always played on New Year’s Day.
As a result, ratings have been relatively bad the past two seasons. Just over 19 million people watched the semifinals between Alabama and Washington and Ohio State and Clemson a year ago. Those numbers were up from the approximately 15 and 18 million people who watched the semifinals following the 2015 season.
The CFP previously announced that future semifinal games that aren’t the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will avoid New Year’s Eve when possible.
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