College Football Week 4: ABC Televises Most-Watched Games across All Networks; ESPN/ESPN2 Airs Five Most-Watched Games on Cable

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College Football Week 4: ABC Televises Most-Watched Games across All Networks; ESPN/ESPN2 Airs Five Most-Watched Games on Cable

  • Saturday Night Football: More than 5.3 Million Viewers, 55% Larger than Fox’ Prime-Time Game 
  • ABC Televises Most-Watched Noon Window of the Season across All Networks 
  • Season to Date: ESPN/ABC Televised Top 5 Most-Watched Games across All Networks; ESPN/ESPN2 Have Aired 22 of Top 23 Most-Watched Games on Cable

Led by Saturday Night Football, ABC aired the two most-watched college football games across all networks in week 4 while ESPN/ESPN2 televised the five most-watched games on cable. College football’s week 4 viewership continued the trend of ESPN’s networks generating the largest college football audiences this season across all networks, including airing the top 5 most-watched games and 22 of the top 23 most-viewed games on cable.

College Football’s Week 4

ABC’s Saturday Night Football: Up 40% Year-Over-Year; Peaks at Nearly 8 Million Viewers
ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring Penn State at Iowa (7:30 p.m. ET) delivered a total live audience of 5,341,000 viewers, up 40% from last season’s week 4 SNF game (Stanford at UCLA) and 55% higher than Fox’ TV-only audience for Notre Dame at Michigan State.

Additional highlights

  • ABC Wins the Night: For the fourth consecutive week of the college football season, Saturday Night Football helped ABC win the night among households, viewers and all key male and adult demos (M18-34, M18-49, M25-54, P18-34, P18-49 and P25-54).
  • Final Drive Peaks Audience: The telecast peaked at 7,948,000 TV viewers (11-11:15 p.m.) as Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley found wide receiver Juwan Johnson for the game-winning touchdown with time expiring.

ABC Regional Telecast Delivers Most-Watched Noon Window of the Season
ABC’s regionalized action, NC State at Florida State and Texas Tech at Houston (noon), generated a total live audience of 3,850,000 viewers, the most-watched noon game window of the season and the second most-watched telecast of the week across all networks. The viewership was up 48% from last year’s comparable window (Florida State at South Florida).

ESPN Televises Four Most-Watched Games on Cable in Week 4; ESPN2 on Friday Beats Three FS1 Games on Saturday
ESPN and ESPN2 combined to televise the five most-watched cable games of the week, led by Mississippi State at Georgia (2,897,000 TV + streaming viewers). The audience for Georgia’s 31-3 victory is a top 5 cable audience this season and 131% higher than FS1’s TV-only audience for their prime time game.  Additional ESPN/ESPN highlights:

  • Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (noon) and TCU at Oklahoma State’s (3:30 p.m.) total live audiences – 2,708,000 viewers and 2,574,000 viewers, respectively –   are cable’s best non-primetime audiences of the season.
  • UCLA at Stanford (10:30 p.m.) total live audience of 1,677,000 viewers beat FS1 in the late window by 60%.
  • Virginia at Boise State total live audience of 1,324,000 viewers on ESPN2 (Friday, Sept. 22) had a 128% larger audience than FS1’s Friday night game and greater than all three of FS1s Saturday games.


2017 College Football Season to Date

  • Saturday Night Football Up 49%, By Far Best Prime-Time Audience
    ABC’s Saturday Night Football is averaging a total live audience of 7,805,000 viewers a game, up 49% from last season’s first four weeks and 150% higher than FOX’ four-week TV-only prime-time audience.
  • ESPN’s Networks Generated College Football’s Largest Audiences This Season – on Broadcast and Cable
    ESPN/ABC have combined to air the top five and seven of the top eight most-watched games this season. Additionally, ESPN and ESPN2 have combined to televise 22 of the 23 most-viewed games on cable.

Most-Watched College Football Games Across All Networks

Rank Network TV Viewership Game Date
1 ABC 12,343,000 Florida State  vs. Alabama Sept. 2
2 ABC 8,086,000 Oklahoma at Ohio State Sept. 9
3 ABC 7,655,000 Michigan at Florida Sept. 2
4 ABC 5,259,000 Penn State at Iowa Sept. 23
5 ESPN 5,141,000 Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech Sept. 4
6 CBS 5,137,000 Tennessee at Florida Sept. 16
7 ESPN 5,135,000 Ohio State at Indiana Aug. 31
8 ABC 5,068,000 Clemson at Louisville Sept. 16

Please note: ESPN introduced a new system of reporting beginning with programming on Monday, Sept. 25. However, college football’s week 4 falls under the previous reporting style and is reflected in this release.



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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