College Football Playoff final sets ratings record for ESPN, cable TV

College Football Playoff national championship
Ohio State fans celebrate on the field after the Buckeyes defeated the Oregon Ducks for the college football national championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
(Tom Pennington / Associated Press)

Someone should have thought of this whole College Football Playoff thing a long time ago. The overnight TV viewer ratings for Monday’s inaugural championship game are in, and they’re sensational.

According to Nielsen, Ohio State’s 42-20 victory over Oregon generated an 18.5 overnight rating, making it not only ESPN’s highest rated broadcast of all time but the highest rated program in the history of cable TV, according to Adweek.

Including all 12 formats across several of its channels that broadcast the game, ESPN grabbed an 18.9 rating, more than double that of the top episode’s of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” cable’s most-watched show.

Previously, the top overnight rating ever in ESPN history was the 16.1 generated by the 2011 BCS championship between Auburn and Oregon.

The ratings for this year’s game improved 21% over those of last year’s BCS championship game between Florida State and Auburn, which drew a 15.3.

It remains to be seen whether the CFP championship was the most watched national title game ever. Right now, that distinction belongs to the 2006 BCS championship game between USC and Texas, which was broadcast on ABC and drew 35.6 million viewers.

Adweek estimates that Monday’s game probably topped 33 million viewers.

To put all this in perspective, though, the NFL announced Tuesday that Fox’s Green Bay-Dallas game on Sunday was the second-most watched divisional playoff game on record, averaging 44.4 million.

Of course, all those numbers will be blown away in  three weeks with the Super Bowl, which set a U.S. television record with an average 112.2 million viewers last year.

Twitter: @chewkiii