Army's 21-17 win over Navy on Saturday in Baltimore ended a losing streak dating back to 2002, but the showdown's television ratings reached levels not seen since the 1990s.
An average audience of 7.9 million people watched the Black Knights down the Midshipmen, CBS said, making it the most-watched Army-Navy showdown in 24 years. The 5.6 rating is the highest in 22 years, the network said.
The audience is near the top end of college football viewership, which can vary widely depending on the matchup. The Nov. 26 game between Ohio and Michigan State had 16.8 million viewers, according to Sports Media Watch, while Navy's loss to Temple in the American Athletic Conference title game on Dec. 3 had a little more than 2 million.
Army-Navy boasted more viewers than every conference title game from the Dec. 3 weekend except the Southeastern Conference (Alabama-Florida, CBS, 11.093 million) and the Big Ten (Penn State-Wisconsin, Fox, 9.189 million), per Sports Media Watch figures. Few non-SEC showdowns came close to Army-Navy numbers throughout the season, although most of those contest went up against other top-tier games while the Mids and Black Knights had the spotlight to themselves.
The rivalry moves back to Philadelphia, its most-visited city, in 2017. CBS holds the broadcast rights to the game through 2018.
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.