Press Releases

College Football

Happy New Year! College Football Playoff Semifinals, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Drive ESPN to its Second Most-Watched Day Ever in Network’s 38 Year History; ESPN Finishes Bowl Season Up Year-Over-Year


Posted on

  • ESPN Rings in New Year Averaging More than Six Million Viewers for 24-Hour Period, Reaching More than 96 Million Fans throughout the Weekend
  • Bowl Season: ESPN Viewership Up for non-New Year’s Six and New Year’s Six Games; Millennials Demo Increases Viewing
  • College Football Playoff Era Drives ESPN to Record Numbers

Fans celebrated the new year by watching ESPN, driving the network to its second most-watched day in the history of the 38-year old network. ESPN’s  New Year’s Day viewership concluded a New Year’s Weekend which saw nearly 100 million fans watch college football content on ESPN’s networks and the college football bowl season, a more-than-two week stretch which resulted in a viewership spike from last year’s bowl season, including record numbers for the New Year’s Six.

Jan, 1, 2018: ESPN averages 6,011,000 Viewers, including Massive Audiences for College Football Playoff Semifinals
Based on official Nielsen-reported statistics, Jan. 1, 2018, is officially the second most-viewed day in the history of ESPN, as an average of 6,011,000 viewers watched ESPN for a full 24-hour span (Jan 1, 6 a.m. to Jan. 2, 6 a.m.). The more than six million viewers, on average, included the massive audiences for the College Football Playoff Semifinals at the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual (26,913,000 viewers) and the Allstate Sugar Bowl (21,473,000 viewers) and the record-breaking audience for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (8,377,000 viewers).

CFP Semifinals viewership are updated from original reporting on Jan. 2

New Year’s Weekend: More than 96 Million Fans Watch More than 28 Billion Minutes of College Football Content
In addition to Jan. 1, fans spent their New Year’s Weekend with ESPN’s networks, as 96.1 million fans consumed its college football related content between Friday, Dec. 29 and Monday, Jan. 1. Those more than 96 million fans watched 28.6 billion minutes of content.

College Football Playoff Era Drives ESPN to Record Numbers
The College Football Playoff era has driven ESPN to new heights, as the day of the CFP Semifinals in each of the four years, now ranks in the top 5 most-viewed days in ESPN history

Rank Viewership Day
1 7,530,000 Jan 1, 2015
2 6,011,000 Jan 1, 2018
3 4,646,000 Dec. 31, 2015
4 4,400,000 Jan. 2, 2012
5 4,386,000 Dec. 31, 2016

ESPN’s Successful Bowl Season
The near-record setting New Year’s Day viewership was a fitting end to a very successful bowl season, as ESPN’s networks saw viewership rise year-over-year in all four key categories: Amongst all bowls, non-New Year’s Six Bowls, the New Year’s Six and CFP Semifinals.

Entire Bowl Viewership up 12%; Millennials Increase Their Viewing
ESPN’s industry-leading presentation of 35 bowl games averaged 4,955,000 viewers, up 12% from last year’s similar slate. ESPN also saw a spike in millennial viewers, as key demos men 18-34 and people 18-34 was up 6% and 4%, respectively.

Non-New Year’s Six Bowl Viewership, New Year’s Six and CFP Semifinals All Up
ESPN was also up 7% for its non-New Year’s Six bowls, averaging nearly three million viewers for its 29-game slate (2,945,000 viewers).  The successful start of the season continued into New Year’s weekend, as documented earlier this week, ESPN was up 8% for the New Year’s Six and 28% for the College Football Playoff Semifinals.

Additional bowl highlights:

  • New Era Pinstripe Bowl featuring Iowa and Boston College (Dec. 27, 2017): 4,008,000 viewers, best for the bowl since 2013
  • Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl between San Diego State and Army (Dec. 23, 2017): 3,498,000 viewers, the best viewership for the bowl ever
  • Hawaii Bowl featuring Fresno State vs. Houston (Dec. 24, 2017): 2,097,000 viewers, highest viewership for the bowl since 2013
  • Outback Bowl between Michigan and South Carolina (Jan 1, 2018): 5,050,000 viewers, the second-highest viewership for any bowl game on ESPN2

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T featuring Georgia vs. Alabama  on ESPN Concludes the Season
ESPN will conclude the 2017 college football season with the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T  between Georgia and Alabama on Monday, Jan. 8, at 8 p.m. ET. Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Tom Rinaldi and Maria Taylor will be on the call. ESPN will announce studio coverage and additional game presentation details soon.

ESPN’s networks reach number includes all bowl games and college football studio programming (including re-airs) as well as the Rose Bowl Parade on ABC.


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