Georgia vs. TCU Draws 17.2M Viewers, Lowest for Title Game in CFP, BCS Eras

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 10, 2023

College Football: CFP National Championship: Georgia Carson Beck (15) in action, looks over the defense vs TCU at SoFi Stadium. 
Inglewood, CA 1/9/2023 
CREDIT: Kohjiro Kinno (Photo by Kohjiro Kinno/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) 
(Set Number: X164274 TK1)
Set Number: X164274 TK1

It turns out 65-7 blowouts aren't exactly great for television ratings.

Stewart Mandel of The Athletic reported Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship game between Georgia and TCU drew 17.2 million viewers, which was the lowest number for a title game in the BCS or CFP era.

Georgia essentially secured the win before halftime and never looked back in the 58-point throttling.

What makes the record-low television ratings all the more notable is how different they could have looked if the CFP semifinals unfolded slightly differently.

Georgia escaped its matchup against Ohio State with a one-point win. Had kicker Noah Ruggles made his field goal in the final seconds, it would have been the Buckeyes in the national title game.

It still might have been the Buckeyes if a controversial targeting call that knocked star wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. out of the game while the Scarlet and Gray had a two-score lead with the chance to push it to three scores wasn't overturned upon review.

On the other side of the bracket was Michigan.

The Wolverines also came up just short in a 51-45 loss to the Horned Frogs. If one or two plays had gone a different direction in both semifinal matchups, archrivals and television-rating juggernauts Ohio State and Michigan could have played each other on the sport's biggest stage.

Their matchup in November was the most-watched game of the regular season. Data also indicated before the season that the Buckeyes have the biggest fanbase in the country, while Michigan isn't too far behind at fifth.

Ohio State in particular consistently draws massive ratings, and ESPN announced its semifinal showdown with Georgia peaked at nearly 24 million viewers and was a top-20 cable telecast of all-time.

It was the highest-rated semifinal since the 2014 season in a game that also featured the Buckeyes facing off against Alabama.

According to Sports Media Watch, the highest-ranked game of the week featured Ohio State four times this season. It was also in the top five most-watched games of the week five other times.

It follows, then, that the Buckeyes were the most-watched team in all of college football this season. Michigan was third.

The blowout surely had an impact on the number of television viewers that tuned in Monday.

But the numbers were never going to reach what a hypothetical championship game showdown between the Wolverines and Buckeyes would have either.