ESPN and ABC Televise Four Highest-Rated Games of College Football’s Kickoff Weekend; ESPN Networks Finish Five-Day Slate Up 31%

College Football

ESPN and ABC Televise Four Highest-Rated Games of College Football’s Kickoff Weekend; ESPN Networks Finish Five-Day Slate Up 31%


  • ABC’s Saturday Night Football Sets the Pace among all Networks
  • ESPN Airs Top 10 Highest-Rated Games on Cable this Season

ESPN and ABC aired the four highest-rated games during college football’s Kickoff Weekend across all networks and, combined with ESPNEWS and ESPNU, delivered a 31% ratings increase over last season’s similar Kickoff Weekend. The five-day slate’s success was evident among many individual game windows, including the season premiere of ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring Oregon-Auburn, which delivered the sport’s highest rating of the weekend and was up 63% year-over-year.

ABC and ESPN: Top Five Highest-Rated Games of the Season
Kickoff Weekend continued ESPN’s fast start to the season, which began when ESPN televised Miami-Florida in Week 0 (Aug. 24) and delivered the network’s highest-rated college football game since 2016. Inclusive of that game, ESPN and ABC have aired the five highest-rated games of the season and ESPN’s networks, overall, have 15 of top 17.

Rank Game Rating Network Date
1 Oregon-Auburn 4.4 ABC Sat, Aug. 31
2 Miami-Florida 4.1 ESPN Sat, Aug. 24
3 Notre Dame-Louisville 3.7 ESPN Mon, Sept. 2
4 Houston-Oklahoma 3.6 ABC Sun, Sept. 1
5 Duke-Alabama 3.1 ABC Sat, Aug. 31


Notre Dame-Louisville Concludes Weekend with Another Top-Rated Game; Adds to ESPN’s Cable Supremacy
ESPN’s Labor Day telecast featuring Notre Dame at Louisville (8 p.m. ET) delivered a 3.7 overnight, making it the second highest-rated game of Kickoff Weekend across any network and the third highest-rated game of the season. With the Week 0 and Labor Day overnight ratings leading the way, ESPN and ESPNEWS have combined to air the top 11 highest-rated games on cable through Kickoff Weekend. Additional Irish-Cardinals highlights:

  • The 3.7 rating was in line with last season’s Labor Day telecast featuring Virginia Tech-Florida State (3.8 overnight).
  • The overnight peaked throughout the first half, consistently landing at a 4.4 from 9 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. before the Irish took a 21-14 lead and never trailed again.
  • Louisville was the No. 1 local market, earning a 16.6 local rating. The remaining top markets:
Rank Market Rating
1 Louisville 16.6
2 Birmingham 11.2
3 New Orleans 7.3
4 Indianapolis 7.0
5 Jacksonville 6.8


Additional Kickoff Week Highlights

  • Besting the Competition: ESPN’s networks had the highest-rated game in nearly every game window:
    • Thursday: Two highest-rated games on August 29
    • Friday: Two highest-rated games on August 30
    • Saturday: Highest-rated late afternoon and top three highest-rated night games on August 31
  • Starting Saturday Strong:
    • ESPN’s networks, cumulatively, were the highest-rated networks among any media company in the noon game window on Saturday, Aug. 31. In that window, ESPN’s networks combined to deliver a 3.4 overnight across its four games.
    • 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.

Numbers included all based on Nielsen overnights; Additional final viewership elements will be available this week


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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