ESPN College Football Week 3: TV’s Two Most-Watched Games, Led by No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama

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ESPN College Football Week 3: TV’s Two Most-Watched Games, Led by No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama

  • 2015 Season on ESPN/ABC: Seven Most-Watched Games across All Networks; Viewership up 39% through Three Weeks
  • 2015 Season on WatchESPN: Three Best Regular Season Weeks and Top Two Games Ever; Strong Year-Over-Year Growth

After televising the most-watched games of both week 1 and week 2, ESPN/ABC continued the trend in week 3 with the week’s two most-watched games. ESPN’s Saturday night matchup featuring then-No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama (9:15 p.m. ET), led the way with 7,605,000 viewers, up 335% year-over-year (USC at Boston College) and the season’s fourth most-watched game overall, across all networks.  Additionally, the high-scoring SEC matchup was WatchESPN’s second-best regular season college football game ever across all major metrics, achieving an average minute audience of 128,000 people; 615,000 unique viewers; and 35,712,000 total minutes.

Northern Illinois at No. 1 Ohio State and Nebraska at Miami (Fla.), regionalized, on ABC (3:30 p.m.) was the second most-watched telecast of the weekend, averaging 5,254,000 viewers and peaking at 6,459,000 viewers from 6:30-7 p.m., when both games were in the fourth quarter. The window was up 63% from 2014’s comparable telecast (Arkansas at Texas Tech).

ESPN Season to Date
ESPN/ABC is up 39% in viewership from the first three weeks of last season and has televised the seven most-watched games across all networks:

2014 vs. 2015

Year Number of Games Viewership
2014 57 1,554,000
2015* 52 2,153,000

*Fewer games due to addition of US Open coverage
Across all ESPN networks and ABC (through three weeks)

2015 Most-Viewed Games — All Networks

Rank Viewership Date Time (ET) Game Network
1. 10,585,000 Mon, Sept. 7 8 p.m. No. 1 Ohio State at Virginia Tech ESPN
2. 7,967,000 Sat, Sept 5 8 p.m. No. 20 Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Alabama ABC
3. 7,898,000 Sat, Sept. 12 8 p.m. No. 7 Oregon at No. 5 Michigan State ABC
4. 7,605,000 Sat, Sept. 19 9:15 p.m. No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama ESPN
5. 5,744,000 Sat, Sept.12 3:30 p.m. No. 9 Notre Dame at Virginia ABC
6. 5,254,000 Sat, Sept. 19 3:30 p.m. Regionalized** ABC
7. 4,493,000 Sat, Sept. 12 Noon Oregon State at Michigan ABC

**Northern Illinois at No. 1 Ohio State or Nebraska at Miami (Fla.)

Additional Week 3 Television Highlights:

  • 9 Florida State at Boston College (Sept. 18) averaged 3,148,000 viewers, ESPN’s most-viewed Friday night game in three years (Boise State at Michigan State on August 31, 2012). The ACC matchup was up 145% to 2014’s comparable window (Baylor at Buffalo on Sept. 12, 2014).
  • South Carolina at No. 7 Georgia averaged 3,189,000 viewers, up 93% from 2014’s comparable window (Iowa State at Iowa).
  • Birmingham received a 47.0 metered market rating for the Rebels-Crimson Tide game, the market’s highest-rated ranking for an early season game on ESPN and fourth highest-rated for a regular season college football game on ESPN:


Rank Local Rating Date Time (ET) Game
1. 51.8 Sat, Nov. 29, 2014 7:45 p.m. Auburn at Alabama
2. 51.2 Sat, Nov. 24, 2007 8 p.m. Alabama at Auburn
3. 49.6 Sat, Nov. 16, 2013 8 p.m. Alabama at Mississippi State
4. 47.0 Sat, Sept. 19, 2015 9:15 p.m. No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama

Please note: Air Force at No. 4 Michigan State (Noon on ABC) viewership number is not available until Thu, Sept. 24, and thus not accounted for in this release. All games referenced were on Sat, Sept. 19, and comparable year-over-year games were Sat, Sept. 13, 2014, unless noted.

2015 Season is Best Yet for WatchESPN
Riding the momentum of the Ole Miss-Alabama game, Week 3 was the third-best regular season college football week ever on WatchESPN, trailing only week 1 and week 2 of this season, with 1,900,000 unique devices generating a total of 160,400,000 live minutes, up 93% and 135%, respectively, compared to 2014’s week 3.


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

Derek Volner

I currently lead ESPN’s NFL Communications, including Monday Night Football, NFL Draft and studio programming. Previously, I did the same for ESPN’s vast college football portfolio. I have been with ESPN since 2013.
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