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ESPN/ABC Airs Five Most-Watched Games of Kickoff Weekend, Sets New Viewership Records; ESPN Captures Two Highest Cable Audiences


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  • ESPN/ABC Audience on Average 189% Greater than FS1/FOX

ESPN/ABC generated the largest audiences across all networks throughout college football’s kickoff weekend, as the two networks combined to air the five most-watched games. Among just cable networks, ESPN was the clear leader, airing the two most-watched matchups.  Factoring in the full slate, ESPN and ABC combined to air 11 games throughout the five days, averaging 4,400,000 viewers, 189% greater than seven game average on FS1/FOX.

ABC’s Saturday Night Football Delivers Over 12.5 Million Viewers, Sets New Viewership Record
ABC set the pace this weekend, televising the two most-watched games across all networks as the Saturday Night Football telecast of the historic matchup between Florida State vs. Alabama (Sept. 2 at 8 p.m.) delivered a total live audience of 12,557,000 viewers and Michigan vs. Florida (3:30 p.m.) earned a total live audience of 7,805,000 viewers. The audience for the Alabama victory is the most-watched kickoff weekend game ever across all networks — ESPN’s and competitors — while the Wolverines victory is a top 3 opening weekend non-primetime game on ABC.

ESPN Airs Two Most-Watched Cable Telecasts; Ohio State-Indiana Sets Opening Night Record
ESPN generated the two biggest audiences among cable networks, as the unrivaled, multi-network MegaCast production of Ohio State at Indiana (Aug. 31 at 8 p.m.) earned a total live audience of 5,437,000 viewers and the thrilling, double-overtime Labor Day matchup between Tennessee and Georgia Tech (Sept. 4 at 8 p.m. ET), delivered a total live audience of 5,268,000 viewers. Additionally, the Buckeyes victory is ESPN’s most-watched opening night game ever and the Volunteers victory is the third most-watched regular season game on ESPN since last season’s Labor Day night matchup.

Sunday Night: ABC Wins Head-to Head Matchup with Fox By 48%
ABC’s Sunday night presentation of West Virginia and Virginia Tech (7:30 p.m.) earned a total live audience of 4,737,000 viewers, the most-watched college football game of the night, besting Fox’ game viewership by 48%

College Football’s Most-Watched Games of Kickoff Weekend

Rank Total Live Audience Game Network
1 12,557,000 Florida State vs. Alabama ABC
2 7,805,000 Michigan vs. Florida ABC
3 5,327,000 Ohio State at Indiana ESPN
4 5,268,000 Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech ESPN
5 4,737,000 West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech ABC

Please note: Viewership numbers for Florida State-Alabama and Ohio State-Indiana have changed slightly since first reported  


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