MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The BCS title game's television rating was up from last season, but the lopsided score kept viewership down.
Alabama's 42-14 rout over Notre Dame drew a 15.1 fast national rating Monday on ESPN, the network said Tuesday. The 26.4 million viewers were up 9 percent from last year's game, another blowout Crimson Tide victory, 21-0 over LSU.
But that's down from the 27.3 million for ESPN's first BCS championship two years ago, Auburn's win over Oregon that was decided in the final seconds. This year's game posted the second-largest audience in cable history behind the 2011 championship.
The matchup between traditional powerhouses in Alabama and Notre Dame created the potential for a record-setting audience. But once the Crimson Tide went up 28-0 by halftime, viewers had reason to skip the second half. Ten previous BCS title games drew a higher rating.
Ratings represent the percentage of U.S. homes with televisions tuned into a program. The game was on in 17.5 percent of homes that get ESPN.
The first half was watched by 20.4 percent, significantly higher than 17.9 for Auburn-Oregon. Typically viewership increases throughout a game if it is competitive. But on Monday, the rating peaked between 9 and 9:30 p.m. EST -- midway through the first half -- and decreased from there as Alabama pulled away.
ESPN executives were hopeful of a massive audience but warned that it probably wouldn't happen without a close game. CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves acknowledged that reality at a media day Tuesday about the network's upcoming Super Bowl coverage.
"Hopefully we don't have a game like they had last night," he said.