ESPN pulls in 26m viewers for college football showpiece
An average of 26.02 million viewers tuned in to watch ESPN's live coverage of the College Football Playoff National Championship, the showpiece US college American football game, according to the sports broadcaster.
Clemson’s 35-31 victory over Alabama on Monday night ranks as the most watched event on a US cable network since last year’s final, between the same two teams, which garnered an audience of 26.7 million.
A further 535,000 viewers watched this week's game on ESPN Player, the network's live streaming platform.
There was TV coverage of the National Championship across the ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU channels.
An average of 19.7 million viewers tuned in to ESPN for the semi-finals of the competition on 31 December, as Clemson beat Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and Alabama beat Washington in the Peach Bowl, representing a 14-per-cent increase on the previous year.
ESPN holds multi-platform rights to the college football playoffs in a 12-year deal signed in 2012 and worth $7.3 billion.
ESPN and its sister network ABC had attracted an average of 26.5 million viewers for Saturday's NFL Wild Card playoff game between the Houston Texans and the Oakland Raiders, which the Texans won 27-14.
The four Wild Card games across the weekend averaged 30.3 million viewers, down from 32.7 million for the equivalent match-ups last year.
The most-watched clash was the Green Bay Packers' 38-13 defeat of the New York Giants on Sunday night, which drew 39.3 million viewers to national network Fox.