ESPN indicates that for the semifinal games, some 28.3 million TV’s were tuned into the Ohio State vs. Alabama game and 28.2 million for the Oregon vs. Florida State game.
The cable network has reported that viewership for the final game was 33.4 million. That compares with NCAA basketball championship games of 21.2 million households for UConn over Kentucky in 2014 and 23.4 million for the Louisville over Michigan game in 2013.
The championship event received the highest Nielson rating for a program in cable television history, with a metered rating of 18.5% — a 21 percent increase over the BCS Championship game last season — and peaking at 20.5%. ESPN offered viewers 12 different ways of seeing the game, including the flagship station, ESPN2, ESPNU and nine other options on ESPN3.com.
The University of Louisville is scheduled to receive approximately $17.1 million annually as a member of the ACC as a result of the conference’s 15-year $240 million contract with ESPN. That could be possibly be higher, with two ACC teams participating in the lucrative Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl.
The schools don’t get any extra money based on whether they win or lose in the playoffs, although the coaches have some nice financial incentives. That’s okay. UofL couldn’t buy that kind of exposure for $17 million, but it is possible to achieve it on the playing field.