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Game drew 2 percent more viewers
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The low-scoring Orange Bowl drew high ratings, as an average of 27 million people tuned in at any given moment.

It gave ABC its largest Wednesday prime-time audience since Barbara Walters' interview with Monica Lewinsky on March 3, 1999.

No. 1 Oklahoma's 13-2 victory over Florida State to claim the national championship Wednesday night drew a 17.8 national rating and 28 share for ABC Sports.

No bowl game has had as high a rating since the Jan. 2, 1997, Sugar Bowl -- when Florida beat Florida State 52-20 to win the national title -- had a 17.9 on ABC.

The ratings Wednesday is an increase of 2 percent over the Bowl Championship Series title game last year, the Sugar Bowl, in which Florida State beat Virginia Tech 46-29 on Jan. 4.

It's also 3 percent higher than the 1999 BCS championship.

"You never have control once the ball's kicked off. We thought if it was a good competitive game we would do the same or better than last year," said Loren Matthews, ABC Sports senior vice president of programming.

The game peaked from 9:30-10 p.m. ET with a 19.2 rating and 29 share. Viewership was still high for the end of the broadcast, with an 18.5/35.

An estimated 53 million viewers watched at least part of the broadcast.

Each rating point represents a little more than 1 million television households. Share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given program.

The top-50 market with the highest viewership levels was Oklahoma City, which registered a 63.1 rating and 80 share.

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