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College Football Week 9: ABC and ESPN Televise Two Most-Watched Games Across All Networks; ESPN’s Networks Earn Nearly Three Times the Minutes of All Other Nationally Rated Networks Combined; Streaming Usage Up Year Over Year


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  • Clemson at Florida State (ABC) and Michigan at Michigan State (ESPN) Earn Biggest Audiences Across All Networks
  • All Three ESPN Saturday Games Among Network’s Best for the Year; Up Year-Over-Year In All Three Game Windows on Multiple Platforms
  • Wolverines-Spartans a Top 10 Streamed Regular Season Game Ever for ESPN

ABC and ESPN set the pace among all networks that televise college football once again in week 9 as the two networks aired the two most-watched games of the week, six of the seven games with the biggest audiences and collectively, along with ESPN’s other rated TV networks*, earned more than three times the total minutes than all other nationally rated networks** combined. Across the 18 games televised on ESPN’s networks, fans watched 7,257,843,000 minutes of game action.*

ESPN’s Big Ten Saturday Drives Results
ESPN’s triple header of Big Ten games on Saturday, Oct. 29, resulted in large total live audiences (TV + streaming), year-over-year growth both collectively and in each game window with each game landing among ESPN’s highest TV audiences for the season.

Collectively, the three games (Michigan at Michigan State, Northwestern at Ohio State and Nebraska at Wisconsin) delivered an average total live audience of 4,171,000 viewers, up 28% from the similar three TV windows week 9 of last season on ESPN. Individually, Michigan at Michigan State (noon ET) delivered a total live audience of 4,787,000 viewers, up 30% from last season’s comparable game (Ole Miss at Auburn). Nebraska at Wisconsin (7 p.m.) had a total live audience of 3,871,000 viewers and Northwestern at Ohio State (3:30 p.m.) delivered a total live audience of 3,761,000 viewers, up 3% and 46%, from the two comparable games last season (Michigan at Minnesota in primetime and Oklahoma State at Texas Tech in the afternoon).

Additional ESPN highlights:

  • Michigan-Michigan State’s total live audience of 4,171,000 viewers is the network’s most-watched game since opening weekend and the third most-watched of the season.
  • The Cornhuskers-Badgers and the Wildcats-Buckeyes total live audiences were the fifth and sixth most-watched games, respectively, on ESPN since opening weekend and among ESPN’s most-watched games of the season:


Rank Total Live Audience Game Date
1 8,585,000 Ole Miss vs. Florida State Sept. 5, 2016
2 4,881,000 Clemson at Auburn Sept. 3, 2016
3 4,787,000 Michigan at Michigan State Oct. 29, 2016
4 4,539,000 Alabama at Arkansas Oct. 8, 2016
5 4,212,000 LSU at Auburn Sept. 24, 2016
6 3,989,000 Arkansas vs Texas A&M Sept. 24, 2016
7 3,871,000 Nebraska at Wisconsin Oct. 29, 2016
8 3,761,000 Northwestern at Ohio State Oct. 29, 2016
  • The stream of the Wolverines-Spartans game had an average minute audience of 140,000 viewers and total of 32,017,000 minutes watched, becoming a top 10 streamed regular season college football game ever for ESPN.
  • ESPN’s stream of the Cornhuskers-Badgers game had an average minute audience of 101,000 viewers and a total of 419,000 unique viewers watching 20,661,000 minutes up 23%, 12%, 67%, respectively, year over year (Michigan at Minnesota).
  • Similarly, the Wildcats-Buckeyes had a streaming average minute audience of 104,000 viewers, 452,000 unique users watching 21,345,000 minutes, up 70%, 53%, 49%, respectively, year over year (Oklahoma State at Texas Tech).

ABC Earns Most-Watched Game of Week 6; Year over Year Increases in Early Games
ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring Clemson at Florida State (8 p.m.) delivered a total live audience of 5,475,000 viewers, the most watched college football game on Saturday across all networks.

Additional ABC highlights:

  • Regional Action: Louisville at Virginia or Penn State at Purdue (noon): A total live audience of 2,964,000 viewers, up 14% year over year (Syracuse at Florida State).
  • Baylor at Texas (3:30 p.m.): A total live audience of 3,554,000 viewers, up over the comparable window from last year (regional action: Maryland at Iowa and Clemson at NC State).

ESPN2 Receives a Top 3 Audience of the Season
Tennessee at South Carolina (7 p.m.) delivered a total live audience of 1,557,000 viewers, the third most-watched game of the season on ESPN2 and up 289% year over year (Vanderbilt at Houston).

*ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Deportes (TV only data). SEC Network, SEC Network Alternate, ESPNEW and Longhorn Network are not included as they are not Nielsen rated networks. 

**CBS, NBC, FOX, FS1 (TV only data)


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner