Press Release

Posted by Michael Humes on December 10, 2013

Hundreds of Millions of Fans Tune to Record-Setting College Football Coverage across ESPN Networks

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  • ESPN, ESPN2 & ESPNU Game Viewership Increases over 2012; Impressive Audiences for ABC
  • Double Digit Saturday Night Wins for ABC & ESPN
  • Expanded College GameDay Shows Audience Growth
  • Birmingham Leads All Markets for 13th Straight Year with Highest-Rated Season Ever
  • ESPN Digital platforms post significant audience growth

ESPN’s industry-leading game and studio coverage of the 2013 college football season reached hundreds of millions of fans and garnered audience increases across multiple television and digital platforms.

For the season, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 covered 367 regular-season Football Bowl Subdivision games exclusively – 274 more than every other national network combined (CBS, FOX, FS1, NBC, NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network) – involving teams from all 10 conferences, plus independents Notre Dame, BYU, Navy and Army.

Overall, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNEWS combined to reach more than 189,000,000 viewers for game telecasts. The television network’s extensive game schedule averaged 1,865,000 viewers for 257 regular-season games. ESPN offered games every day of the week, including opening Sunday of the season, Labor Day, select Tuesday and Wednesday matchups, and a regular schedule of Thursday, Friday and Saturday telecasts.

Season Increases across Cable Networks
ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU – which each televised more games in 2013 than 2012 – posted audience increases over last season. 

  • ESPN averaged 2,644,000 viewers, an increase of 3 percent over last season (vs. 2,564,000)
  • ESPN2 averaged 1,108,000 viewers, an 8 percent increase (vs. 1,024,000)
  • ESPNU averaged 400,000 viewers, an increase of 4 percent (385,000)

In addition to growth across ESPN cable platforms, ABC averaged a strong 4,777,000 viewers for an extensive schedule of games. The 2013 season average is down slightly from a 2012 campaign that included the network’s second most-viewed regular-season game since 1991 (16,059,000 viewers for Notre Dame defeating USC 22-13 on November 24). ABC would be up 3 percent over 2012 without the record-setting telecast.

Winning Saturday Nights
Saturday night college football telecasts helped ABC and ESPN to finish first or second across all cable and broadcast networks on 13 (of 15) Saturdays among viewers and 14 Saturdays among all key demographics (Men and Persons 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54). Combined, ABC and ESPN were the two networks among viewers on three Saturday nights during the season.

In addition, ABC or ESPN was the number one or two network among key male and adult demographics every Saturday night except November 9.

ABC’s Saturday Night Football Presented by Windows 8, the first weekly prime-time college football game on broadcast television, averaged 5,750,000 viewers and a 3.5 HH US rating, and was the most-watched program of the night in viewers on six of its 12 broadcasts this season.

Expanded College GameDay Draws More Viewers
ESPN’s new three-hour College GameDay Built by The Home Depot averaged 1,830,000 viewers, demonstrating a 10 percent increase over the same 9 a.m. to noon ET time period on ESPN in 2012.

Birmingham Leads All Markets for 13th Straight Year with Highest-Rated Season Ever
The top four most-viewed metered markets for ESPN’s game telecasts in 2013 were the same as in 2012 with Birmingham securing its first place finish for a 13th consecutive season. The Alabama city averaged a 9.2 rating, the highest ever for the market. Greenville was second with a 4.9 rating followed by Knoxville (4.4) and New Orleans (4.3).

  • Nine of this season’s top 10 metered markets also finished the 2012 season among the top 10.
  • Louisville jumped from 20 in 2012 to the ninth top market in 2013.
  • Oklahoma City (eighth in 2012) and Austin (10th) both fell out of the top 10.
Top 25 Markets for 2013Top 25 Markets for 2012
No. 1       Birmingham: 9.2 ratingNo. 1       Birmingham: 8.9 rating
No. 2       Greenville: 4.9 ratingNo. 2       Greenville: 4.7 rating
No. 3       Knoxville: 4.4 ratingNo. 3       Knoxville: 4.6 rating
No. 4       New Orleans: 4.3 ratingNo. 4       New Orleans: 3.7 rating
No. 5       Nashville: 3.3 ratingNo. 5       Jacksonville: 3.6 rating
               Memphis: 3.3 rating               Columbus: 3.6 rating
               Columbus: 3.3 ratingNo. 7       Atlanta: 3.5 rating
               Jacksonville: 3.3 ratingNo. 8       Oklahoma City: 3.4 rating
No. 9       Louisville: 3.2 ratingNo. 9       Nashville: 3.3 rating
               Atlanta: 3.2 ratingNo. 10     Memphis: 3.1 rating
No. 11     Charlotte: 2.9 rating               Austin: 3.1 rating
No. 12     Oklahoma City: 2.8 ratingNo. 12     Tulsa: 2.5 rating
No. 13     Orlando: 2.7 rating               Charlotte: 2.5 rating
No. 14     Tulsa: 2.6 rating               Las Vegas: 2.5 rating
               Tampa-St. Petersburg: 2.6 ratingNo. 15     Portland: 2.3 rating
No. 16     Austin: 2.5 rating               Richmond: 2.3 rating
               West Palm Beach: 2.5 ratingNo. 17     Orlando: 2.2 rating
No. 18     Kansas City: 2.4 rating               Dayton: 2.2 rating
               Norfolk: 2.4 rating               Norfolk: 2.2 rating
No. 20     Dayton: 2.3 ratingNo. 20     Louisville: 2.1 rating
No. 21     Greensboro: 2.2 rating               Tampa-St. Petersburg: 2.1 rating
No. 22     Raleigh-Durham: 2.2 ratingNo. 22     West Palm Beach: 2.0 rating
               Richmond: 2.2 rating               Greensboro: 2.0 rating
No. 24     Ft. Myers: 2.1 rating               Cleveland: 2.0 rating
No. 25     Dallas-Ft. Worth: 2.0 rating               Ft. Myers: 2.0 rating

ESPN Digital platforms post significant audience growth
ESPN Digital Media’s college football content across all platforms – ESPN.com, the ESPN Mobile Web college football section, ESPN’s ScoreCenter app, WatchESPN/ESPN3 and the ESPN College Football app – garnered significant audiences over the season. Highlights:

  • WatchESPN/ESPN3’s averaged 705,556,000 total live minutes viewed for an increase of 44 percent over 2012. The average live game on the platforms experienced 32,000 live unique viewers (a 20 percent increase), 1,200,000 live minutes viewed (31 percent growth) and 33 minutes per viewer (6 percent increase). In an average Saturday, ESPN.com had 3,700,000 video starts.
  • Overall for the season, ESPN.com saw 204,300,000 video starts for a 29 percent increase.
  • On the average Saturday, ESPN’s Scorecenter/SportsCenter app posted 6,400,000 unique views (up 6 percent) and an average minute audience of 101,000 (up 61 percent). The college football app saw more than 1,100,100 unique views (up 18%).

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