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’Bama-Georgia draws 2nd-largest CFP championship TV audience

Alabama players celebrate after overtime of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Georgia Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Atlanta. Alabama won 26-23. (John Bazemore / Associated Press)
Alabama players celebrate after overtime of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Georgia Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Atlanta. Alabama won 26-23. (John Bazemore / Associated Press)
By Ralph D. Russo Associated Press

ATLANTA – The national championship showdown between Alabama and Georgia drew 28.443 million viewers for ESPN, making it the second-most watched title game in the four years of the College Football Playoff format.

Alabama beat Georgia in overtime , rallying from 13 points down in the second half before winning with a game-ending touchdown pass . Viewership for the all-Southeastern Conference matchup on Monday night in Atlanta was up 13 percent from last season’s Clemson-Alabama rematch from the season before, ESPN said Tuesday.

ESPN said the audience peaked late in the first half at around 30 million viewers and more than 28.4 million were watching when the winning touchdown was scored.

“The record-breaking audiences, over the course of multiple years, clearly reinforce how the College Football Playoff has quickly established itself as an elite event,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president, programming and scheduling.

The first CFP championship game between Oregon and Ohio State after the 2014 season drew nearly 34 million viewers, a record for ESPN. This season’s CFP semifinals on Jan. 1 and the championship game averaged more than 26.2 million viewers, up 21 percent from last year. The semifinals were played on Dec. 31 the last two seasons.

The New Year’s Six bowls and championship game drew an average of 17 million viewers, the most in four years of the format. The seven-game average viewership increased 10 percent from last year’s seven games, and it was up 25 percent from 2015, ESPN said.

Overall, ESPN’s bowl coverage of 35 games averaged 5.682 million viewers, an increase of 11 percent from last year.

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