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College Football Playoff TV ratings rise on return to Jan. 1

With the semifinals back New Year's Day, ESPN viewership for the College Football Playoff was the highest it has been since the first season of the post-season system in 2015.
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With the semifinals back New Year's Day, ESPN viewership for the College Football Playoff was the highest it has been since the first season of the post-season system in 2015.

The double overtime Rose Bowl thriller between Georgia and Oklahoma drew a 14.8 overnight Nielsen rating and average viewership of 27 million, up 39 per cent over last season's early semifinal.

Georgia beat Oklahoma 54-48 and ESPN said the television rating reached a high of 17.3 in overtime. The Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Clemson got a 12.5 rating and average viewership of 21.1 million, up 10 per cent from last season's second semifinal.

The last two seasons the semifinals were played on Dec. 31. The CFP drew record viewership for ESPN in its first season when games were played on Jan. 1, 2015.

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More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Ralph D. Russo, The Associated Press