The national college football title game, pitting Auburn against Oregon, was seen in 17.7 million households, breaking the previous cable record of 21.8 million viewers drawn by the Oct. 5, 2009, Monday night NFL game between Minnesota and Green Bay, also shown on ESPN.
The Nielsen rating service determined the BCS game -- won on the final play by Auburn 22-19 -- earned a 17.8 fast national coverage rating, the highest in ESPN history.
The national championship game was carried on ESPN for the first time. Though it earned record cable ratings, viewership was down from the 30.8 million who watched last year's contest on ABC, TV Guide reported.
Millions of Getty images now available for free via embed tool
Ray Liotta sues skin care company over use of likeness