Press Release

Posted by Michael Humes on August 22, 2013

“By the Numbers”: Three-Part Look at College Football on ESPN Networks – Part 3

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By The Numbers: Part 1
By the Numbers: Part 2

Total Games, Most Appearances, Most-Viewed Games, Thursday & Saturday Data, & More

The third part of ESPN’s three-part “by the numbers” series providing extensive historical information on the network’s college football coverage includes a look into ESPN’s ratings history with the most-viewed games and top 25 rated markets for the 2012 season.

Part one, released August 20, included total amount of live and exclusive college football games across ESPN platforms, coverage growth over the years and teams that have appeared most frequently on ESPN. The second part, released on August 21, provided figures on ESPN’s Thursday night series, including total games and team information; production facts; memorable moments that happened on ESPN networks; and ESPN commentator credentials.

College football has been a cornerstone of ESPN’s programming since the network’s launch in 1979 and televised live on ABC every year since 1966. ESPN’s commitment to the sport has grown to include multiple weekly games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, ESPN Radio and ESPN Mobile as well as daily studio programs, the Saturday morning College GameDay Built by The Home Depot, and content across ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, espnW and more.

Millions and Millions and Millions of Fans…
ESPN’s multiplatform college football coverage reaches millions of fans. For the 2012 regular-season, ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 combined to reach more than 187,000,000 viewers for game telecasts. Combining ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 with ESPNU’s extensive lineup and the networks averaged 2,018,000 viewers over 216 regular-season contests.

ESPN’s top 5 most-viewed regular-season games:

  • USC at Ohio State: 10,586,000 viewers (September 12, 2009)
  • Boise State at Virginia Tech: 9,888,000 viewers (September 6, 2010)
  • Florida State at Miami (Fla.): 9,120,000 viewers (September 4, 2006)
  • Miami (Fla.) at Florida State: 8,406,000 viewers (September 7, 2009)
  • Arizona at Oregon: 7,787,000 viewers (November 26, 2010)

ABC’s top 5 most-viewed regular-season games:

  • Michigan at Ohio State: 21,037,000 viewers (November 18, 2006)
  • Notre Dame at USC: 16,059,000 viewers (November 24, 2012)
  • Florida at Florida State: 14,829,000 viewers (November 30, 1996)
  • Notre Dame at USC: 14,647,000 viewers (November 25, 2006)
  • Miami at Florida State: 14,294,000 viewers (November 16, 1991)

ESPN college football content also posts significant usage across digital platforms (ESPN.com, ESPN mobile Web, ScoreCenter, ESPN College Football app, ESPN3, WatchESPN). In 2012, the outlets logged an average minute audience of 163,000 on college football Saturdays. The ESPN College Football app for Android and iOS devices received 3.4 million downloads during the season.

Two of ESPN’s BCS Championships hold the record for the top two most-viewed programs in cable history:

  • Auburn beating Oregon 22-19 in 2011 with an average of 27,316,000 viewers
  • Alabama defeating Notre Dame 42-14 in 2013 with an average of 26,380,000 viewers

Birmingham Takes Top Spot… Again
Birmingham finished the 2012 campaign as the highest-rated metered market for ESPN’s regular-season for the 12th consecutive season. The football-hungry market averaged an 8.9 rating, which is 89 percent higher than second place Greenville’s 4.7 rating. Eight of top 10 metered markets in 2011 finished the 2012 season among the top 10 again. Tulsa (seventh in 2011) and Las Vegas (ninth) both fell out of the top 10, tying at 12th with a 2.5 rating, while Nashville, Memphis and Austin jumped into the top 10.

Every market in the top 10 but Columbus and Oklahoma City finished with a higher average rating than in 2011, led by Knoxville with a 53 percent increase (4.6 vs. 3.0). Birmingham posted a 51 percent increase over 2011’s leading 5.9 rating.

Top 25 Markets for 2012 Top 25 Markets for 2011
No. 1       Birmingham: 8.9 rating No. 1       Birmingham: 5.9 rating
No. 2       Greenville: 4.7 rating No. 2       Oklahoma City: 4.3 rating
No. 3       Knoxville: 4.6 rating                Columbus: 4.3 rating
No. 4       New Orleans: 3.7 rating No. 4       Greenville: 4.1 rating
No. 5       Jacksonville: 3.6 rating No. 5       New Orleans: 3.4 rating
               Columbus: 3.6 rating                Atlanta: 3.4 rating
No. 7       Atlanta: 3.5 rating No. 7       Jacksonville: 3.3 rating
No. 8       Oklahoma City: 3.4 rating                Tulsa: 3.3 rating
No. 9       Nashville: 3.3 rating No. 9       Las Vegas: 3.2 rating
No. 10     Memphis: 3.1 rating No. 10     Knoxville: 3.0 rating
               Austin: 3.1 rating No. 11     Dayton: 2.8 rating
No. 12     Tulsa: 2.5 rating No. 12     Greensboro: 2.7 rating
               Charlotte: 2.5 rating                Austin: 2.7 rating
               Las Vegas: 2.5 rating                Charlotte: 2.7 rating
No. 15     Portland: 2.3 rating                Fort Myers: 2.7 rating
               Richmond: 2.3 rating No. 16     Pittsburgh: 2.5 rating
No. 17     Orlando: 2.2 rating                Nashville: 2.5 rating
               Dayton: 2.2 rating                Norfolk: 2.5 rating
               Norfolk: 2.2 rating                Memphis: 2.5 rating
No. 20     Louisville: 2.1 rating No. 20     Cleveland: 2.4 rating
               Tampa-St. Petersburg: 2.1 rating No. 21     Orlando: 2.3 rating
No. 22     West Palm Beach: 2.0 rating No. 22     Raleigh-Durham: 2.2 rating
               Greensboro: 2.0 rating                West Palm Beach: 2.2 rating
               Cleveland: 2.0 rating                Detroit: 2.2 rating
               Ft. Myers: 2.0 rating No. 25     Cincinnati: 2.0 rating
                 Richmond: 2.0 rating
                 Portland 2.0 rating
                 Kansas City: 2.0 rating
                 Tampa-St. Petersburg: 2.0 rating

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