College Football Week 5, A Clean Sweep: ABC Airs Most-Watched Games Overall and Most-Watched in Noon, Late Afternoon and Primetime Game Window; ESPN Grows Audience for College GameDay Built by The Home Depot and in Multiple Game Windows

College Football

College Football Week 5, A Clean Sweep: ABC Airs Most-Watched Games Overall and Most-Watched in Noon, Late Afternoon and Primetime Game Window; ESPN Grows Audience for College GameDay Built by The Home Depot and in Multiple Game Windows

  • ABC’s Saturday Night Football was Among Most-Watched Games of the Season
  • ABC Begins Saturday with Most-Watched Noon Game; Accomplishes Same Feat in Late Afternoon
  • College GameDay Up 15% Year-Over-Year; Nearly Two Million Viewers Tune in to Three-Hour Show

College football’s week 5 provided a clean sweep for ABC, as the network televised the most-watched games across all networks and the most-watched games in the individual noon, late afternoon, and primetime game windows. For ESPN, the network saw multiple game windows increase their year-over-year viewership, while also airing the six most-watched games on cable. The game window success continued the momentum which began with College GameDay Built by The Home Depot; the show increased its year-over-year viewership by double digits, representing the fourth straight week it has grown its audience in comparison to 2018.

ESPN and ABC: Aired Seven of the Eight Most-Watched Games
ABC’s Saturday Night Football delivered the most-watched game of the day, as 6,136,000 viewers tuned into Ohio State’s commanding 48-7 victory at Nebraska (7:30 p.m. ET). Despite a 38-0 halftime score and the audience peaking early in the first half (8,077,000 viewers from 8:15-8:30 p.m.), the game’s viewership ranks as one of the most-watched games of the season and, now a month in, ESPN and ABC have seven of the eight most-watched games of the season:

Rank Game Viewership Network Date
1 Notre Dame at Georgia 9,350,000 CBS Sept. 21
2 LSU at Texas 8,651,000 ABC Sept. 7
3 Oregon vs. Auburn 6,876,000 ABC Aug. 31
4 Texas A&M at Clemson 6,476,000 ABC Sept. 7
5 Ohio State at Nebraska 6,136,000 ABC Sept. 28
6 Miami vs. Florida 6,088,000 ESPN Aug. 24
7 Notre Dame at Louisville 5,683,000 ESPN Sept. 2
8 Houston at Oklahoma 5,450,000 ABC Sept. 1


ABC’s Saturday Night Football: Wins the Night Once Again
The Buckeyes-Huskers audience ranked first among all viewers and key male, female and adult demos (18-34, 18-49, 25-54) across all networks – sports and non-sports – driving the network to “Win the Night”. ABC’s Saturday Night Football has now accomplished the feat among viewers four of the five Saturday nights of the college football season (Aug. 31, Sept. 7, Sept. 14, Sept. 28). Combining week 0 (Aug. 24), ESPN’s networks have ‘Won the Night’ five of the last six Saturday nights. Factoring in the entire five-day Kickoff Weekend (Aug. 29 – Sept. 2), college football has led ESPN’s nets to “Win the Night” night seven times this season.

ABC Draws Substantial Late Afternoon Audience for Near Upset of No. 1 Clemson
Clemson at North Carolina on ABC (3:30 p.m.) drew an audience of 4,400,000 viewers, the most-watched afternoon game of the day and second most-watched overall of the week, trailing only ABC’s Saturday Night Football. The game peaked at 7,201,000 viewers late in the second half (6:30-6:45 p.m.). The audience for the Clemson victory was up 59% year-over-year from the similar game last season (Baylor at Oklahoma).

Big Saturday Start for ABC and ESPN: ABC Wins the Noon Game Window, ESPN Grows Audience
ABC began Saturday’s action by drawing 3,034,000 viewers in the noon game window, the only network this week to surpass the three million mark for this time slot. ESPN’s telecast of Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (noon) in the same window drew 2,582,000 viewers, up 59% from the same matchup last season, also played on ESPN in Week 5 at noon.

ESPN’s Primetime Audience Increases
In primetime, Mississippi State at Auburn on ESPN (7:15 p.m.) delivered 1,992,000 viewers, up 3% from last year’s similar game (Florida at Mississippi State).

College GameDay: A Class of Its Own
College GameDay Built by The Home Depot continues its stellar start, as the show grew its audience by 15% year-over-year and averaged 1,939,000 viewers for last week’s show from Lincoln, Neb. The growth in audience represents the fourth straight week the show has accomplished the feat.  In the final hour, College GameDay averaged 2,289,000 viewers.

Friday Night Shines Bright on ESPN
ESPN aired the two most-watched college football games on Friday night, as Arizona State at Cal (10:30 p.m.) had 1,408,000 viewers and Duke at Virginia Tech (7 p.m.) earned 1,196,000 viewers.


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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