College Football Week 3: ABC’s Saturday Night Football: Ohio State-TCU is Highest-Rated Game of the Season on Any Network; ESPN and ABC Both Up 27% Year-Over-Year on Saturday

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College Football Week 3: ABC’s Saturday Night Football: Ohio State-TCU is Highest-Rated Game of the Season on Any Network; ESPN and ABC Both Up 27% Year-Over-Year on Saturday

  • ABC/ESPN Air Four of Six Highest-Rated Games Across All Networks, Up Year-Over-Year in Almost All Game Windows
  • Buckeyes-Horned Frogs Earns 4.9 Overnight, Up 48% Year-Over-Year
  • ESPN Grows Prime-Time Rating by 57%; ESPN/ESPN2 Airs Seven Highest-Rated Cable Games

College football’s week 3 netted impressive results for both ABC and ESPN, as ABC’s Saturday Night Football aired the highest-rated game of the season on any network and both networks were individually up 27% year-over-year on Saturday, Sept. 15. Led by SNF, ABC/ESPN combined to air four of the six highest-rated games across all networks while also generating year-over-year ratings increases in nearly every game window.

Ohio State vs. TCU Earns 4.9 Overnight, ABC’s Highest-Rated Regular Season Game in More than Calendar Year
ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring Ohio State vs. TCU (8 p.m. ET) is the highest-rated game of the 2018 college football season across all networks, as the Buckeyes’ 40-28 victory delivered a 4.9 overnight — ABC’s highest rating for a regular season game in more than a calendar year (Oklahoma at Ohio State on Sept. 9, 2017). Season to date, ABC/ESPN now have aired three of the four highest-rated games across all networks.

Additional Buckeyes-Horned Frogs Superlatives:

  • Overnight Up Nearly 50%: ABC’s SNF was up 48% from last year’s week 3 game (Clemson at Louisville)
  • Leading the Way in Prime-Time: ABC outpaced the broadcast competition by 113% in prime-time.
  • Big Plays Lead to Peak Overnight: The overnight peaked at 5.9 during an explosive third quarter, in which 34 points were scored between the two teams (10:45-11 p.m.)
  • Columbus’ Rating Best on ABC/ESPN Since ‘16: Columbus was the No. 1 market, earning a 41.1 rating, notably higher than the aforementioned Oklahoma-Ohio State game last season. The market’s rating was the best on ABC/ESPN in the regular season since November 2016. The complete top 10:
Rank Local Rating Market
1 41.1 Columbus, OH
2 23.2 Dayton
3 20.9 Cleveland
4 12.5 Cincinnati
5 11.3 Oklahoma City
6 9.2 Tulsa
7 9.1 Dallas-Ft. Worth
8 7.8 Nashville
9 7.4 Knoxville
10 7.2 Birmingham

ABC Up Year-Over-Year in Every Game Window; Oklahoma-Iowa State Among Highest-Rated Games of the Day
ABC SNF concluded a tripleheader which saw the network grow its audience in every single game window, as Oklahoma-Iowa State (noon) earned a 2.6 overnight, up 4% from last year, and BYU-Wisconsin (3:30 p.m.) earned a 2.1 overnight, up 24% from last year. The overnight for the Sooners’ victory was the third-highest overnight of the day among all networks.

Alabama-Ole Miss is Cable’s Second Highest Saturday Game of the Season; ESPN Up Big in Prime-time
Alabama at Ole Miss (7 p.m.) earned a 2.2 overnight, cable’s second highest rated Saturday game of the season trailing only ESPN’s telecast of Clemson-Texas A&M in week 2 (3.0 overnight). The overnight for the Crimson Tide’s impressive victory was up 57% year-over-year, and peaked early at 3.7 overnight as Alabama extended their lead in the first half (7:30-7:45 p.m.).

ESPN Sees Year-Over-Year Growth in Nearly Every Game Window; Easily Sets Pace among Cable Competition in Every Game Window
Florida State at Syracuse (noon) earned a 1.3 overnight and Washington at Utah (10:15 p.m.) delivered a 1.2 overnight, up 18% and 50%, respectively, year-over-year, continuing a trend seen throughout the day on ESPN/ABC. Among its cable competition, ESPN’s networks aired the seven highest-rated games and nine of the top 10, including the best in each of the game windows. In addition to the aforementioned primetime window:

  • Noon: ESPN and ESPN2 aired the two highest-rated games, beating the competition by 333% and 33%. ESPNU and ESPNEWS equaled the competition in that window.
  • Late Afternoon: ESPN topped the cable competition by 350%
  • Final Game Window: ESPN surpassed the cable competition by 500%


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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