ESPN has been setting cable ratings records pretty routinely since it started airing “Monday Night Football” a few seasons back. The sports channel set another new mark Monday night (Jan. 10), this time with a college football game.
The BCS championship game, in which Auburn beat Oregon, 22-19, drew the biggest audience in the history of cable TV with 27.3 million viewers. The matchup of college football’s two top-ranked teams and a tight game throughout — Auburn won on a field goal as time ran out — helped keep the audience glued to the screen.
The previous high-water mark for a cable telecast was a “Monday Night Football” game between the Packers and Vikings in October 2009; it drew 21.8 million viewers.
This year was the first that the BCS title game aired on cable, and it didn’t appear to hurt the audience much. ESPN says the total-viewer count was higher than eight of the previous 12 BCS championships. The Auburn-Oregon game also blew away everything on the broadcast networks Monday night; the nets mostly went with reruns, and the most-watched show was a “Two and a Half Men” repeat on CBS, which drew 10.3 million viewers.
The five BCS bowl games averaged 16.7 million viewers for ESPN.