ESPN’s Presentation of Florida at LSU Delivers More than 6.4 Million Viewers; Network’s Most-Watched Game in Nearly Two Years

College Football

ESPN’s Presentation of Florida at LSU Delivers More than 6.4 Million Viewers; Network’s Most-Watched Game in Nearly Two Years

  • Gators-Tigers Leads ESPN to Televise Most-Watched Sporting Event on Saturday Night
  • ABC Saturday Night Football Beats CFB Broadcast Competition Head-to-Head in Primetime
  • South Carolina-Georgia Peaks at Nearly Six Million Viewers in the Noon Window
  • College GameDay Built by The Home Depot Grows Audience Year-Over-Year Again

ESPN’s presentation of a Baton Rouge Saturday night featuring Florida at LSU drove the network to multi-year college football viewership highs, resulted in the most-watched sporting event on Saturday night and led to another primetime victory among all networks. Simultaneously, ABC was generating broadcast television’s largest college football audience among primetime games. The significant viewership numbers helped complete a day which began with College GameDay Built by The Home Depot increasing its audience year-over-year and the sport’s biggest upset of the season resulting in ESPN delivering one of cable’s most-watched noon game windows in recent history.

Florida at LSU Stands Out in the Record Books  

ESPN’s Saturday Night telecast of the Gators-Tigers (8 p.m. ET) averaged 6,450,000 viewers, ESPN’s most-watched game in nearly two years – including standalone, Labor Day night telecasts and this season’s Week 0 coverage. For October games, the audience was among ESPN’s five best on record, dating back to 1994. Additional highlights:

  • Second Half Surge: The audience peaked at 7,428,000 viewers in the second half (10:45-11 p.m.).
  • Significant Growth: ESPN was up 70% year-over-year from last year’s similar window (Missouri at Alabama).
  • Leading the Way in the SEC: Gators-Tigers was the most-watched SEC game of Week 7 among all networks.

  • Tigers Win on the Field, ESPN Wins in Television: In addition to being the most-watched primetime football game, the audience was the best among all sports on Saturday night. The result was ESPN “Winning the Night” among viewers and all key male, adult, and female demos.
    • Combining Week 0 (Aug. 24), ESPN’s networks have ‘Won the Night’ seven of the last eight 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” nine times this season.
  • New Orleans – Top Local Market:
Rank Local Rating Market
1 30.6 New Orleans
2 27.6 Birmingham
3 17.4 Jacksonville
4 12.5 Knoxville
5 11.0 Greenville
6 10.6 Atlanta
7 10.0 Tampa-St. Pete
8 9.0 Nashville
9 8.7 Tulsa
10 8.3 Orlando

ABC and ESPN Combined for Nearly 10 Million Viewers in Primetime
ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring Penn State at Iowa (7:30 p.m.) averaged 3,695,000 viewers, the most-watched primetime college football game on broadcast television in week 7. As a result, during primetime, ABC and ESPN averaged nearly 10 million viewers across the two networks.

South Carolina Upset Draws Significant Viewership
ESPN’s South Carolina at Georgia (noon) presentation averaged 3,247,000 viewers, the network’s second most-watched noon game in nearly three years. As the two teams played in multiple overtimes, the audience peaked at 5.8 million viewers.

Birmingham was the number one local market for the game:

Rank Local Rating Market
1 Birmingham 13.7
2 Atlanta 12.7
3 Greenville 12.5
4 Jacksonville 8.9
5 New Orleans 5.9

College GameDay Audiences Continues Growth Year-Over-Year
For the entire three-hour show (9 a.m. – noon), College GameDay increased its audience year-over-year by 4%, averaging 1,875,000 viewers. College GameDay averaged 2,055,000 in its final two hours (10 a.m. – noon).

Additional ESPN Networks Highlights:

  • ESPN’s Friday night telecast of Virginia at Miami (8 p.m.) averaged 1,726,000 viewers, up 46% year-over-year. The audience was the sport’s best on Friday night.
  • For the season, ESPN has televised the 28 most-watched college football games on cable and, combined with ESPN2, 37 of the top 40.


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner



Derek Volner

I work in college sports, which includes football and basketball, with an emphasis on Olympic Sports. Additionally, I handle ESPN’s coverage of high school athletics and recruiting.
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