The NCAA decision to create a four-team playoff to determine college football's champion was a boon to ESPN.
The Disney-owned cable network, which is paying $5.6 billion for exclusive coverage rights to college football's post-season for the next 12 years, finished off a record-breaking three-game College Football Playoff run by attracting more viewers than any single cable program ever has, 33.4 million.
Ohio State's surprise 42-20 pummeling of Oregon also garnered a 18.5 Nielsen overnight rating. That represented a 21 percent improvement over the final version of the now-defunct BCS National Championship, Florida State's win over Auburn in 2014, also covered by ESPN.
ESPN had already broken the cable ratings record--twice--on Jan. 4 for its coverage of the playoff semifinals, when the 28.2 million viewers who saw Oregon beat Florida State were usurped hours later by the 28.3 million who watched Ohio State upset Alabama.
But the audience was bigger Monday than just linear TV.
ESPN's title game presentation on TV Everywhere platform WatchESPN attracted 1.16 million unique viewers.
In fact, combine all of the network's platforms covering the event and the ratings average met or surpassed the highest rated BCS National Championship game--Texas' 41-38 upset of USC in 2006.
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