Alabama and Ohio State are two of the biggest brands in college football, so you’d think Monday’s championship game drew massive TV ratings. Think again.
Alabama-Ohio State’s ESPN broadcast had 18.7 million viewers, which is remarkably low. To that number into perspective, last season’s College Football Playoff National Championship between Clemson and LSU had 25.59 million viewers.
Monday night’s title game may end up being the least-viewed college football championship game since, well, ever. The 2004-05 BCS Championship – featuring USC and Oklahoma – drew 21.4 million viewers which, as far as we know, was previously the least viewed.
ESPN can’t be pleased with Monday night’s broadcast numbers.
ESPN says last night's national championship game drew 18.7 million viewers. That is …. yeesh.
Per @paulsen_smw, the previous low for a BCS or CFP title game was 21.4M for USC 55, Oklahoma 19 in 2004.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) January 12, 2021
There’s several factors to consider here as to why Monday’s championship ratings are so low. One is obvious: people are tired of watching Alabama – but there’s probably more to it.
This was a funky season. The non-conference schedule – which originally included games like Ohio State-Oregon – was obliterated because of the pandemic. Conferences then weren’t aligned in when to start their respective seasons, leading to ultimate chaos. The Big Ten and Pac-12 waited almost two full months after the ACC and Big 12 and a month after the SEC began to start their respective seasons.
The bottom line is the 2020 season was in total disarray from the start. The non-conference portion of the season was cancelled. Conferences started at different times. Stadiums were empty. Players opted out. Almost everything that makes college football great was taken away.
Yes, the college football postseason is becoming monotonous. Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State are the class of the sport and it’s getting old.
But once college football – and the world for that matter – returns to normalcy (hopefully by the start of the 2021 season), TV ratings should return to normal as well.