ESPN led the way Saturday, Sept. 1 with its season-opening college football coverage, highlighted by ABC Saturday Night Football. The telecast – Alabama defeating Michigan 41-14 from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas – averaged a 4.8 rating, 7,918,000 viewers and 5,452,000 households, making it the night’s top show across all networks in viewership and key male demographics.
In addition, three of ESPN’s Saturday telecasts averaged a 2.1 rating or better. The network began the day at noon ET with Ohio at Penn State averaging a 2.8 rating, 3,503,000 viewers and 2,733,000 households followed by Bowling Green at Florida at 3:30 p.m. averaging a 2.1 rating, 2,758,000 viewers and 2,048,000 households. The Clemson vs. Auburn Saturday prime time telecast averaged a 2.5 rating, 3,582,000 viewers and 2,415,000 households.
Additional highlights from the opening weekend:
- ESPN’s Friday night Boise State at Michigan State matchup was the network’s third highest-rated and most-viewed Friday night telecast, averaging a 3.2 rating, 4,194,000 viewers and 3,103,000 households. The 17-13 Michigan State victory ranks behind both games of an ESPN doubleheader on Thanksgiving Friday, November 26, 2010.
- The top game – a 48-29 Oregon victory over Arizona on the Ducks’ way to an undefeated regular-season – averaged a 5.3 rating, 7,787,000 viewers and 5,263,000 households.
- The second most-viewed telecast – a one-loss Nevada team defeating then-undefeated Boise State 34-31 in overtime – averaged a 3.9 rating, 5,449,000 viewers and 3,908,000 households.
- ESPN’s first game of the 2012 season – a 17-13 South Carolina win over Vanderbilt on Thursday, Aug. 30 – was also the network’s second most-viewed Thursday night opening telecast ever. The game, with a 3.0 average rating, 4,129,000 viewers and 2,944,000 households is behind ESPN’s 1994 Arizona-Georgia Tech opening telecast, which averaged 4,174,000 viewers. This year’s matchup is also the highest-rating for a season-opening telecast since 1998 when ESPN averaged a 3.4 rating for Virginia at Auburn.
- ESPNU averaged 1,491,000 viewers (based on a 1.3 rating and 945,000 households) for its telecast of Tennessee beating NC State 35-21, making it the network’s most-viewed college football game ever.
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