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CFP semis set cable TV record

BRISTOL, Conn. -- The first College Football Playoff semifinals drew the two largest audiences in cable television history.

ESPN had a 15.2 rating and averaged 28,271,000 viewers for its Allstate Sugar Bowl broadcast Thursday night after drawing a 14.8 rating and averaging 28,164,000 viewers for the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual, Nielsen said Friday.

Both games had significant increases from last year on ESPN, when the Rose Bowl had a 10.2 rating and averaged 18,636,000 viewers and the Sugar Bowl had a 6.6 rating and averaged 11,304,000 viewers.

ESPN also will broadcast the Jan. 12 College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T between Oregon and Ohio State. The network has drawn the 18 largest audiences in cable TV history and 36 of the top 40.

Despite technical problems during the Rose Bowl, WatchESPN averaged 864,000 unique viewers for the two games.