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Auburn's BCS nail-biter over Oregon on ESPN was cable's most-watched program ever

January 11, 2011 | 12:55 pm

Auburnbcs Pro football isn't the only hot ticket on TV these days. Why, there's also college football.

Monday's Tostitos Bowl Championship Series (BCS) on ESPN averaged 27.3 million total viewers, according to the Nielsen Co., the highest total ever for a cable TV program dating back to at least 2001. In fact, the game blew away the previous record, also held by ESPN for a Monday Night Football matchup between Green Bay and Minnesota last year (21.8 million).

How did it happen? Well, Monday's event was quite a game between Auburn and Oregon, with the Auburn pulling out a last-second 22-19 victory.

The numbers will bring a sigh of relief to ESPN executive suites, which aired the entire BCS lineup for the first time and earlier saw some lower-than-broadcast ratings for events such as the Rose Bowl.

"ESPN's inaugural telecasts of the BCS culminated with a thrilling finish viewed by a record audience," ESPN president George Bodenheimer said in a statement.

— Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)


Photo: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton in the BCS championship game. Credit: Matt Sullivan/Reuters.