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.
The #CFBPlayoff Semifinal at the Allstate #SugarBowl was the most viewed bowl game of the 2020 college football season as 19.1 million viewers tuned in to see No. 3 @OhioStateFB upend No. 2 Clemson in a 49-28 showcase of offenses.https://t.co/9HEL0s2dBT pic.twitter.com/yYEIS3T1RX— Allstate Sugar Bowl (@SugarBowlNola) January 5, 2021
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.