- Auburn/Penn State registered 7.6M average viewers, the second-most-viewed Week 3 matchup
- ABC has aired three of the top five games of the 2021 season
- Nearly 11M average viewers watching CFB in primetime across ESPN networks on Saturday
- ESPN boasts top two games on cable
ABC and ESPN continued to see multi-year viewership highs in Week 3 of the season, highlighted by Saturday night’s primetime matchup between then-No. 22 Auburn and then-No. 10 Penn State.
ABC’s Saturday Night Football Presented by Capital One averaged 7,606,000 viewers, the second-most-watched Week 3 game across all networks and fifth-best game of the year. ABC has aired three of the top five most-watched games of the year, and only once in the past decade (2016) have five games surpassed the 7.5 million viewers mark in the first three weeks of the season. The 7.6 million viewers is one of the five best September game audiences on ABC since the start of the 2018 season.
The matchup between the Tigers and the Nittany Lions peaked from 10:45 – 11 p.m. ET with 8.9 million viewers in the closing minutes of the game. This was the most-viewed Week 3 game on ABC since 2011 and the audience was up more than 100% from Saturday Night Football in 2020’s Week 3 (Miami/Louisville) and Week 3 in 2019 (Clemson/Syracuse). Driven by this game, ABC for the day was up +43 percent from 2019’s Week 3.
ESPN networks once again owned primetime as the top two networks among all key male and adult demos from 8 – 11 p.m. During that window, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU had a combined average minute audience of 10.7 million viewers.
Across the entire sport, 9.4 billion minutes were watched across all networks, up +12% from Week 2 and the most-viewed Week 3 since 2016.
ESPN Boasts Top Two Games on Cable in Week 3
ESPN notched the top two games on cable for Week 3, including South Carolina/Georgia (2,548,000 viewers) in primetime on Saturday, and Friday night’s UCF/Louisville matchup (1,881,000), which was up +8 percent from the 2019 Friday doubleheader (North Carolina/Wake Forest and Washington State/Houston).
College GameDay Built by The Home Depot Has Banner Day
ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot (9 a.m. – noon) had a high-powered weekend in Happy Valley, with the three-hour show averaging 1,910,000 viewers, which ranks as the most-viewed College GameDay since Rivalry Week in 2019. The audience was up +84 percent from Week 3 in 2020 (Louisville) and +7 percent from Week 3 in 2019 (Ames).
Saturday’s show ranks as the best Week 3 airing of the show since 2016 and the final hour (11 a.m. – noon) averaged 2,425,500 viewers, the best final hour since the 2019 season.