Not a record: BCS champ game had 26.38M viewers. It's cable's second biggest audience ever.— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) January 8, 2013
Alabama and Notre Dame may be the two most storied and popular programs in the history of college football, but that wasn't enough to make their championship tilt the best-rated BCS game of all time. The overnight rating of 15.7 fell far short of the USC and Texas classic in 2006, which grabbed a 21.7 share. Monday night wasn't good enough for second-best either, as that distinction belongs to the 17.8 rating for 2000's battle between Oklahoma and Florida State.
Still, that's a good number for cable, as it garnered the highest rating of any broadcast on cable in two years.
The lower-than-expected rating can likely be attributed in some part to the blowout nature of the game. The contest was all but over by halftime, as Alabama built a 28-0 advantage. The game was also broadcast on cable, while USC and Texas were on network television.
Adding Notre Dame and subtracting LSU was a net gain for ESPN, as the viewership did see a 14 percent increase of 2012's national championship.
Unsurprisingly, the contest was most popular in the South. The top markets (Birmingham, New Orleans, Knoxville, Nashville, and Atlanta) all fell within the SEC's footprint.