Ohio State's Sugar Bowl Win over Clemson Draws 19.1 Million Viewers, Most of Any Non-NFL Sporting Event Since Last Year's National Championship Game

By Dan Hope on January 5, 2021 at 3:00 pm
Justin Fields and Tuf Borland

19.1 million people watched Ohio State beat Clemson on Friday night.

Friday night's Sugar Bowl matchup between the Buckeyes and Tigers drew the largest college football viewership of the season – slightly edging out the Rose Bowl between Alabama and Notre Dame (18.9 million) – and was the most-watched non-NFL sporting event since last season's national championship game, the Sugar Bowl announced Tuesday.

Columbus was the highest-rated TV market for the Sugar Bowl with a 40.1 rating, while Alabama fans interested in seeing who their national championship game opponent would be drove Birmingham to a close second in Sugar Bowl ratings (38.6). Conversely, Columbus had the second-highest rating for the Rose Bowl (23.6), though a distant second behind Birmingham (46.2).

Viewership for the Sugar Bowl was down 9 percent from Ohio State's 2019 College Football Playoff matchup with Clemson, which drew 20.9 million viewers. Still, the two CFP semifinals were easily the most-watched TV events on New Year's Day, making it the third-highest day of viewership ever for ESPN networks.

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