ESPN reaches 28.4 million with football championship

Alabama's thrilling national football championship victory over Georgia drew 28.4 million viewers to ESPN on Monday night, the Nielsen company said.

It was second only to the Ohio State-Oregon championship game in 2015 as the most-watched telecast ever on cable television, the company said. The game ended in overtime with a sudden-death touchdown for the Tide.

The week before, the Georgia-Oklahoma college football semi-final was a more popular television event than the much-anticipated game between Clemson and Alabama. Nielsen said that a little more than 26 million people watched the Georgia-Oklahoma game on ESPN on New Year's Day. It was a more competitive game than Alabama-Clemson, wihch reached 20.6 million.

Meanwhile, NBC's "Today" was the most popular morning news show on Hoda Kotb's first week as co-host of the first two hours with Savannah Guthrie, just as it was before her appointment — when she subbed for the fired Matt Lauer.

It's the first time "Today" has beaten ABC's "Good Morning America" for first place six weeks in a row since 2012, Nielsen said.

NBC won the week in prime time, averaging 9.7 million viewers. CBS had 7.5 million, Fox had 5.7 million, ABC had 4.2 million, Univision had 1.5 million, ION Television had 1.4 million, Telemundo had 1.1 million and the CW had 750,000.

ESPN dominated the cable landscape, averaging 4.73 million viewers in prime time. Fox News Channel had 1.97 million, MSNBC had 1.55 million, HGTV had 1.48 million and USA and Discovery tied with 1.36 million.

With much of the country plunged in a deep freeze, the evening newscasts benefited with more viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" averaged 10.3 million viewers last week, NBC's "Nightly News" had 10.1 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.5 million.

For the week of Jan. 1-7, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: College Football Semi-final: Georgia vs. Oklahoma, ESPN, 26.05 million; NFL Wild Card: Atlanta at L.A. Rams, NBC, 22.82 million; College Football Semi-final: Alabama vs. Clemson, ESPN, 20.56 million; "Golden Globe Awards," NBC, 19.01 million; "NFL Wild Card Post Game," Fox, 18.64 million; "NFL Pre-Game," NBC, 16.39 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 16.16 million; "Young Sheldon," CBS, 14.7 million; "NCIS," CBS, 14.11 million; "Bull," CBS, 11.17 million.


ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.