It appears fans did not feel like watching most of Monday's College Football Playoff title game between Georgia and TCU, and it's difficult to blame them.
The 65-7 show of force from Georgia on its way to a second consecutive national championship drew only 17.223 million viewers for ESPN's family of channels, according to Austin Karp of Sports Business Journal. That number reportedly makes the Bulldogs' win the least-watched college football title game since the beginning of the BCS in 1999.
ESPN's main broadcast reportedly averaged 16.6 million viewers, though the "Field Pass with The Pat McAfee Show," in which the former NFL punter and some of his friends watched and reacted to the game from the field, was a relative success, with 423,000 viewers.
Georgia had the CFP title game won by the second quarter
Most stories about a sporting event's record-low ratings would lead to some soul-searching about the sport's future, but there's nothing really complex about what happened Monday.
Georgia was an enormous favorite (lopsided matchups are typically a ratings detriment) and proceeded to smack TCU in the face for 60 minutes. The Bulldogs outgained the Frogs 589-188, won the turnover margin 3-0 and had their backup quarterback in for the entire fourth quarter. It was the largest margin of victory in the history of not just the College Football Playoff but also all bowl games.
As such, it's tough to blame non-Georgia fans for turning the game off early. TCU entered the contest with a reputation built on magical comebacks, but there's little room for drama when the score is 38-7 at halftime.
The bright side for the College Football Playoff and ESPN is that this season's semifinal thrillers did just fine in the ratings department, as the Fiesta Bowl (21.7 million viewers) and Peach Bowl (22.4 million) were the most-watched semifinal games in five years, despite being on New Year's Eve.