ABC’s Saturday Night Football: Ohio State vs. TCU – More than 7.3 Million Viewers, Most-Watched Game of the Year on any Network; ESPN/ABC Up 27% on Saturday

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ABC’s Saturday Night Football: Ohio State vs. TCU – More than 7.3 Million Viewers, Most-Watched Game of the Year on any Network; ESPN/ABC Up 27% on Saturday

  • Week 3 Highlights:
    • ESPN Beats Broadcast Competition Head-to-Head in Prime-Time
    • ABC Up Year-Over-Year in Every Game Window; ESPN Up 27% on Saturday
    • ESPN and ABC: More than 11 Million People Watching on Saturday Night
    • Throughout Saturday: 7.5 Million Watching ABC/ESPN’s Networks on Average


  • Season to Date:
    • ESPN/ABC: Aired Seven of Top 9 Games This Season across All Networks
    • ESPN/ABC: Combine to ‘Win the Night’, Beating Sport and Non-Sport Competition Four Times in Three Weeks


College football’s week 3 delivered banner results for ABC and ESPN, as the networks combined to be up 27% year-over-year on Saturday, Sept. 15, and ABC’s Saturday Night Football aired the most-watched game of the season on any network. ABC’s primetime success capped a tripleheader which saw audience gains in each of its game windows and coincided with ESPN’s prime time telecast which was the second most-watched primetime game on any network.  During the two prime-time games, ESPN and ABC’s audience peaked at 11,186,000 (9:30-9:45 p.m.ET) and throughout the course of eleven hours of game time (noon-11 p.m. ET), on average, 7.5 million fans were tuning into college football on ABC/ESPN’s networks at any given minute.


Ohio State at TCU Leads to 41% Year-Over-Year Audience Increase
ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring Ohio State vs. TCU (8 p.m. ET) is the most-watched game of the season on any network, delivering a total live audience of 7,328,000 viewers. The telecast is ABC’s most-watched regular season game in more than a calendar year (Oklahoma at Ohio State on Sept. 9, 2017) and up 41% from last season’s week 3 SNF game.

ABC ‘Wins the Night’ for Second Time This Season; Beats Sport and Non-Sport Competition
Buoyed by the Big Ten-Big 12 clash, ABC went on to ‘win the night’ among households, viewers and all key male and female adult demos, beating all broadcast and cable competition – including networks not airing sporting events. Now, three weeks into the season, ABC/ESPN have beat the sport and non-sport competition four different nights, resulting in each network ‘winning the night’ on two different occasions.

Additional Buckeye-Horned Frog Superlatives:

  • Among September’s Best: The more than 7.3 million viewers is the fourth highest for a September, non-opening week SNF game in the last 10 years.
  • Barrage of Points Peaks Audience: ABC’s audience peaked at 8,700,000 viewers in the midst of a 34 point third quarter (10:30 – 11 p.m.)
  • Prime-time Champions: ABC’s audience topped its broadcast competition by 148% in primetime.

Alabama-Ole Miss Draws More than Four Million Viewers, Second Most-Watched Primetime Game of the Week
Prime-time success extended to ESPN, as Alabama at Ole Miss (7 p.m.) delivered a Nielsen total live audience of 4,109,000 viewers, the second most-watched prime-time game in week 3. The audience for the Crimson Tide’s victory beat the broadcast competition by 39% and was up 64% year-over year from last season’s same game window on ESPN.

ABC Sees Audience Gains Throughout the Day
ABC’s success began early in the day as Oklahoma at Iowa State (noon) garnered a total live  audience of 3,434,000 viewers and BYU at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m.) delivered a total live audience of 2,972,000 viewers. The audience for the Sooners’ victory was up 4% year-over-year, while simultaneously earning the highest for the noon game window across its competition. The network’s audience for the Cougars upset was up 28% from the same matchup last season.

ESPN Sees Success Throughout Saturday
ESPN  grew its audience in nearly every window on Saturday, as Florida State at Syracuse (noon) delivered a Nielsen total live audience of 1,869,000 viewers, up 19% from similar game window last year and the second most-watched cable game of the day. ESPN’s final game window featuring Washington at Utah (10 p.m.) averaged a Nielsen total live audience of 1,589,000 viewers and Boise State at Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m.) delivered 1,438,000 average viewers. The audience for the Huskies win was up 33% year-over year, while the audience for the Cowboys’ win out-paced every game from the cable competition.

Nielsen Total Audience, Explained, via ESPN FRONTROW



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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