College Football Kickoff Weekend: ABC Airs Two Highest-Rated Games on Any Network; ESPN’s Networks Up 40% Year-Over-Year

College Football

College Football Kickoff Weekend: ABC Airs Two Highest-Rated Games on Any Network; ESPN’s Networks Up 40% Year-Over-Year

  • ABC Saturday Night Football: Highest-Rated Game of the Day and Up 63% Year-Over-Year
  • ESPN’s Networks Cumulatively Lead in Each Game Window
  • College GameDay Built by The Home Depot Continues Strong Start

ABC aired the two highest-rated college football games on any network during Saturday’s action of college football’s Kickoff Weekend, including its signature franchise Saturday Night Football leading the way among all games. Across all of Kickoff Weekend thus far (Aug. 29-Aug 31), ESPN/ABC/ESPNEWS have aired 12 of the 14 highest-rated games across all networks.

The individual strong game ratings have led to ESPN’s networks being up 40% year-over-year in Week 1 (14 games), including ESPN being up 22% (8 games). The networks’ ratings success was also evident in each individual game window, as ESPN’s networks had the highest cumulative ratings in the noon, late afternoon and primetime windows, respectively.

ABC’s Fast Start: Two Highest-Rated Games and Up Year-Over-Year
ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring Oregon vs. Auburn (7:30 p.m. ET) delivered a 4.4 overnight, the highest-rated game of Kickoff Week among all networks. The overnight for the Tigers’ last-minute victory resulted in a 63% ratings increase compared to the franchise’s season opener in 2018 (Louisville vs. Alabama).

ABC’s rating peaked at 5.5 as Auburn drove and scored the game-winning touchdown (11:15-11:30 p.m.). Birmingham led all markets with a 37.1 overnight. The top 10 local markets:

Rank Market Rating
1 Birmingham 37.1
2 Portland 14.7
3 Tulsa 8.8
4 Oklahoma City 8.5
5 Nashville 8.4
6 Jacksonville 8.3
7 Memphis 8.0
8 Knoxville 7.9
9 Columbus 7.3
10 Atlanta 7.0

Leading in SNF, the ESPN CFB150 Showcase Game featuring Duke vs. Alabama (3:30 p.m.) delivered a 3.1 overnight, the highest-rated late afternoon game of the day and the second highest-rated game of any network across week 1. Birmingham also was the top local market, earning a 37.8 overnight. The top five markets:

Rank Market Rating
1 Birmingham 37.8
2 Atlanta 9.1
3 Memphis 8.8
4 Nashville 8.3
5 New Orleans 7.3


ESPN’s Networks Combine to Deliver Biggest Ratings in Noon Window
In addition to airing the highest-rated primetime and late afternoon games of the day, ESPN’s networks, cumulatively, were the highest-rated networks among any media company in the noon game window of the day. In that window, ESPN’s networks combined to deliver a 3.4 overnight across its four games.

Birmingham Welcomes Back College Football in a Big Way
Birmingham was consistently tuned to ABC on Saturday, as across the three football game windows, 29% of the market on average was watching the network between noon and 11:30 p.m.

College GameDay’s Strong, Consistent Start Continues
College GameDay Built by the Home Depot (9 a.m.-noon) delivered a 1.4 overnight (ESPN and ESPNU), including a 1.6 for its final hour on ESPN only.


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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