ESPN s telecast of the Tostitos Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championshipdrew a 16.1 overnight metered market rating, according to Nielsen. It wasthe highest in the history of cable television (records go back to 2001).
The previous high was 14.4 for an ESPN Monday Night Football game New England at New Orleans on November 30, 2009.
The 16.1 overnight rating is higher than two of the previous six BCS title games (2008 15.6, 2005 14.6), and spurred ESPN to win the night among all networks, broadcast or cable.
The game drew huge audiences in the teams local markets,Birmingham, Ala. (67.0) and Portland (37.5).
Rounding out the top five were Nashville (28.8), New Orleans (28.6), and Knoxville (27.7).
The telecast likely will become the most-viewed program in the history of cable television, once fast national ratings become available Tuesday afternoon.
The current top spot is another ESPN MNF contest, Green Bay at Minnesota on October 5, 2009, with an audience of 21,839,000 viewers (P2+) and 15,136,000 homes, based on a 15.3 rating