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March Mania

Bison vs. James Madison title tilt draws record television numbers for FCS game

Around 2.7 million viewers watched the NDSU and James Madison squrae off in the FCS national title game on Saturday, Jan. 11. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — North Dakota State’s dramatic victory against James Madison for the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision national title was the most-watched televised Bison football game, also drawing the largest audience for an FCS game.

An average of nearly 2.7 million viewers watched NDSU hold off the Dukes for a 28-20 victory at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Those numbers are according to, a website dedicated to TV ratings.

The game was carried on ABC-TV, marking the first time the FCS championship game had been aired on network television since 1994. That helped the game draw bigger television numbers.

“Overall pleased with where it ended and hopefully it’s a good enough number that ESPN and ABC would consider having that game on network television again in the future,” said NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen. “When you can showcase the two best teams in the subdivision and have it be a great game, I think that’s really positive for the subdivision.”

The previous top television game for NDSU was against South Dakota State in the 2016 FCS quarterfinals. That game drew an average of 1.984 million viewers on ESPN.

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