College Football Playoff Drives ESPN to Most-Watched Day Ever

The College Football Playoff ended up paying off huge dividends for ESPN, as the two semifinal games helped lead the network to its most-watched day in its 35-year history.

ESPN said on Thursday that the network averaged 11.68 million viewers on Jan. 1, which included the Cotton Bowl along with the two national semifinal games in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl (the average also includes SportsCenter and College GameDay).

As previously reported, the Rose and Sugar Bowls ended up with the top two telecasts in cable TV history.

ESPN also notched its most-viewed week (Dec. 29-Jan. 4) in its history as well with 4.1 million viewers.

Over on ESPN2, the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl between Wisconsin and Auburn averaged a network-record 6.4 million viewers. Overall, ESPN's 33 bowl games this season averaged 5.4 million viewers, up 4% over last year.