CFP National Championship: LSU-Clemson Audience Grows to 27.3 Million Viewers with Out of Home and Full Nielsen Reporting Available

  • CFP Semifinals Grow to 21.5 Million Viewers, Most-Watched CFP Semifinals Outside of New Year’s Day 
  • ESPN Achieves Year-Over-Year Audience Increases in All Aspects of the Season:
    • CFP National Championship, CFP Semifinals, Bowl Season, Regular Season and College GameDay

ESPN’s College Football Playoff National Championship (Jan. 13, 8 p.m.) audience has now vaulted north of 27.3 million viewers and the College Football Playoff Semifinals (Dec. 28, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.) now have an average audience of 21.5 million viewers, as full Nielsen reporting is available — including newly reported out of home viewing and additional streaming audiences. The final Nielsen reporting further increases the year-over-year audience gains of LSU-Clemson’s CFP National Championship over last season’s contest, while also solidifying this season’s CFP Semifinals as the most-watched non-New Year’s Day Semifinals in the CFP era.

The final Nielsen reporting cements a 2019-20 season in which ESPN’s networks increased their audience year-over-year in every category: the regular season, bowl season, the CFP Semifinals, the CFP National Championship and College GameDay Built by The Home Depot, which delivered its most-watched season since 2015.

Please note: Initial reporting included television audience plus the majority of streaming data. Additional reporting completes the streaming data and provided out of home audience. 

CFP National Championship: 1.7 Million Viewers Added to LSU-Clemson’s Audience
The CFP National Championship between LSU and Clemson finishes with a total live audience of 27,311,000 viewers, which includes an additional 1.7 million viewers from Nielsen’s initial reporting the day following the game. The new audience figure includes a 4.3% lift from out of home reporting (1,136,000 viewers) and an additional streaming audience of 587,000 fans.

This year’s viewership of 27.311 million is up 332,000 viewers from the last season’s Alabama-Clemson CFP National Championship final viewership (26,979,000 – including full streaming and out of home audience). The final reporting created an even larger increase between this season’s audience and last season’s final audience, as initial Nielsen reports — available the day following the game — indicated LSU-Clemson’s audience was 308,000 viewers higher than Alabama-Clemson.

CFP Semifinals: 2.2 Million Viewers Provided by Out of Home Viewing
The CFP Semifinals now average 21,487,000 viewers (two games), which includes an additional 2.2 million viewers from Nielsen’s initial reporting. The new audience figure includes a 9.6% lift from the out of home audience (1,880,000 viewers) and an additional streaming audience of 322,000 people.  In addition to setting a new high for non-New Year’s Day Semifinals, this year’s games are now up 8% from last year’s final CFP Semifinal audience. Initial Nielsen reporting showed a 6% year-over-year increase.

Please Note: College Football Playoff Semifinals were not on New Year’s Day for the 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Clemson-Ohio State Semifinal Finishes with 23.5 Million Viewers, Most-Watched Non-New Year’s Day Semifinal
The CFP Semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl featuring Clemson-Ohio State (8 p.m.) finishes with a total live audience of 23,484,000 viewers, solidifying it as the most-watched non-New Year’s Day Semifinal ever (8 games). The audience now includes an out of home viewership of 1,963,000 fans (9.1% lift) and an additional streaming audience of 370,000 people. The CFP Semifinal at the Peach Bowl (4 p.m.) between LSU and Oklahoma concludes with an audience of 19,269,000 viewers, including an out of home audience of 1,787,000 viewers (10.2% lift) and an additional streaming audience of 268,000 viewers.

Both CFP Semifinals Increase Year-Over-Year Margin; ESPN Finishes Up Double-Digits in Primetime on Semifinal Saturday
Individually, the CFP Semifinals were both up year-over-year from the CFP Semifinals in the 2018 season, with Clemson-Ohio State now delivering a 12% increase in primetime and LSU-Oklahoma registering a 2% increase in the late afternoon. Day after reporting showed an increase of 9% and approximately 1%, respectively.

Additional highlights

  • ESPN’s Bowl Season: ESPN’s networks averaged an audience of 5,736,000 viewers for all its bowl games (36 games), up from last year (5,728,000)
  • Non-NY Six Bowls: ESPN’s networks averaged 3,104,000 viewers, up 3% from last year
  • Regular Season: ESPN’s networks averaged 1,742,000 viewers (247 games), up 6% from last season

Please note:

All figures in this release include Nielsen’s full streaming and out of home data for both the 2019-20 season and the 2018-19 season. All figures in previous press releases, which are hyperlinked in this release, include initial Nielsen data

As in year’s past, including last season, the College Football Playoff National Championship and CFP Semifinals were multi-network presentations through ESPN’s MegaCast productions. As a result, ESPN’s Nielsen-rated networks that aired the games are accounted for in the viewership calculation for all years. The Rose Bowl Game and Sugar Bowl were also carried on multiple Nielsen-rated networks, with each of those viewerships accounted for in the release.


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner

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