ESPN earned the largest overnight rating in cable television history for Monday’s BCS National Championship Game.
Auburn’s win over Oregon in the BCS National Championship Game earned a 16.1 overnight rating on ESPN Monday night, down 12% from last year (ALA/TEX: 18.2, ABC), and down 5% from 2009 (UF/OK: 17.0, FOX).
The 16.1 is the highest overnight rating on record for a cable television program, topping the previous high of 14.4, set by Patriots/Saints on ESPN in 2009.
Despite the record numbers, Monday’s game drew the fifth-lowest overnight ever for a BCS National Championship Game (13 telecasts) — ahead of only 2008 (LSU/OSU: 15.6, FOX), 2005 (USC/OK: 14.7, ABC), 2004 (LSU/OK: 14.4, ABC), and 2002 (MIA/NEB: 14.3, ABC).
For some perspective, the BCS National Championship Game drew the highest overnight for any non-NFL sporting event since Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals (BOS/LAL: 18.2, ABC).
The game topped the 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game (BUTLER/DUKE: 16.0), which aired on broadcast network CBS.
Of course, Auburn/Oregon paled in comparison to its NFL competition. The weekend’s four NFL Wild Card games drew overnights of 18.3, 18.8, 20.8 and 24.4, though it should be pointed out that all four aired on broadcast networks.