The television rating for the BCS title game was down 11 percent from last year.
Auburn's last-second 22-19 win over Oregon on Monday night drew a 15.3 rating on ESPN. Last season's Alabama-Texas game earned a 17.2 on Fox, which is available in about 15 percent more homes.
This year's ratings were also hurt by a matchup of two programs with less tradition and national appeal than a year ago.
In the game's first year on cable, it drew the highest cable audience ever with an average of more than 27 million viewers. The previous high was just under 22 million for last season's Packers-Vikings "Monday Night Football" game on ESPN. The rating was the highest in the network's history.
The 15.3 ranks ninth out of 13 BCS title games.
On ESPN3.com, the game was watched by more than 619,000 unique viewers, fourth all-time behind three World Cup matches last summer.
Ratings represent the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned into a program.