ABC’s Saturday Night Football is Most-Watched College Football Franchise This Season on Any Network

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ABC’s Saturday Night Football is Most-Watched College Football Franchise This Season on Any Network

  • SNF Franchise is Up on TV, Streaming Audience Continues to Grow; ABC Up Significantly Year Over Year
  • Week 5: Louisville at Clemson is Most-Watched, Most-Streamed Saturday Game of the Season

Through college football’s first five weeks, ABC’s Saturday Night Football is averaging a total live audience (TV + Streaming) of 6,201,000 viewers, the most-watched college football franchise on any network.  The television audience is averaging 6,100,000 viewers a game, 28% better than the next best window on any other network and up 3% from the first five weeks of ABC’s Saturday Night Football last season. The franchise’s streaming audience has garnered 101,000 average minute viewers per game, up 84% year over year.

Accounting for all ABC games (16 games), the network’s total live audience is 5,760,000 viewers per game, college football’s most-watched network.  The television audience (5,659,000 viewers) and streaming audience (101,000 viewers) is up 16% and 90%, respectively, year over year.

Louisville-Clemson Delivers Large Audience

In week 5, ABC’s Saturday Night Football featured the season’s first top 5 matchup – No. 3 Louisville at No. 5 Clemson (8 p.m.). The much-anticipated, ACC showdown generated a total live audience of 9,494,000 viewers, the most-watched Saturday college football game of the season across all networks. ABC’s TV audience of 9,294,000 viewers is the third most-watched October Saturday Night Football game ever (34 games).

Rank TV Viewers Game Date
1 13,251,000 Notre Dame at Florida State October 18, 2014
2 10,367,000 Penn State at Ohio State October 25, 2008
3 9,294,000 Louisville at Clemson October 1, 2016

Saturday Night Football dates back to 2006

The stream of the Tigers’ 42-36 victory generated an average minute audience of 200,000 viewers with 812,000 unique viewers watching a total of 51,107,000 minutes, making it the second-most streamed regular season college football game ever for ESPN.

Additional Louisville at Clemson Highlights:

  • ABC Wins the Night: ABC was the most-watched network in prime time across all broadcast and cable in all key demographics — households, persons 2+, men 18-34, men 18-49, men 25-54, persons 18-34, persons 18-49, and persons 25-54 while ESPN ranked No. 2 (Kentucky at Alabama and Arizona at UCLA) among men 18-34, men 18-49,  men 25-54,  persons 18-34, and persons 18-49.
  • Year Over Year Increase: The Cardinals-Tigers’ total live audience (9,494,000 viewers) was up 23% from Notre Dame at Clemson (7,718,000 viewers), last season’s week 5 Saturday Night Football
  • Record Setting Louisville Game: ABC’s TV audience was the best ever for a Louisville football regular season game on any ESPN network, surpassing the previous high — West Virginia at Louisville on Nov. 2, 2006 on ESPN — by 45% (6,395,000 viewers).

Additional Week 5 Highlights:

  • Wisconsin at Michigan (3:30 p.m. on ABC) delivered a total live audience of 6,990,000 viewers, week 5’s second-most watched game across all networks and one of the most-watched games of the season.
  • Stanford at Washington (Friday, Sept. 30, at 8 p.m. on ESPN) delivered a total live audience of 3,424,000 viewers, the second-most watched Friday game on ESPN on record*, trailing only Boise State at Michigan State from week 1 in 2012 (non-thanksgiving day weekend).
  • Texas at Oklahoma State (noon on ABC) with a total live audience of 3,852,000 viewers was up 38% year over year to the comparable game window (Texas at TCU).

ESPN/ABC Set the Pace Across All Networks; ESPN Streaming Usage Increase Continues
Through week 5, ESPN/ABC has combined to televise the three most-watched college football games across all networks and seven of the top 8.

Rank TV Viewership Game Date Network
1 10,945,000 Notre Dame at Texas Sept. 4, 2016 ABC
2 9,294,000 Louisville at Clemson Oct. 1, 2016 ABC
3 8,354,000 Ole Miss vs. Florida State Sept. 5, 2016 ESPN
4 8,169,000 Alabama at Ole Miss Sept. 17, 2016 CBS
5 7,944,000 USC vs. Alabama Sept. 3, 2016 ABC
6 7,832,000 LSU vs. Wisconsin Sept. 3, 2016 ABC
7 6,851,000 Wisconsin at Michigan Oct. 1, 2016 ABC
8 6,216,000 Florida State at Louisville Sept. 17, 2016 ABC


Additionally, this year’s three most-watched college football games — Ole Miss-Florida State, Louisville-Clemson, and Notre Dame-Texas — represent the three most streamed regular season college football games ever for ESPN.

Game Date Average Minute Audience (Rank) Unique Viewers (Rank) Total Minutes Viewed (Rank)
Ole Miss vs. Florida State Sept. 5, 2016 231,000 viewers (1st) 854,000 (1st) 59,700,000 (1st)
Louisville at Clemson Oct. 1, 2016 200,000 viewers (2nd) 812,000 (2nd) 51,100,000 (2nd)
Notre Dame at Texas Sept. 4, 2016 194,000 viewers  (3nd) 786,000 (3nd) 49,900,000 (3nd)

*Records date back to 1990


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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