ESPN Networks Win the College Football Weekend, Airing Four Most-Watched Games of Week 8

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ESPN Networks Win the College Football Weekend, Airing Four Most-Watched Games of Week 8

  • ESPN & ABC air top four games of Week 8, including the top game in the noon, afternoon and primetime windows
  • Illinois-Penn State peaked with 7.4 million viewers in 9OT thriller
  • ESPN’s most-viewed college football week of the year
  • Most-viewed Tennessee-Alabama game since 2016

ESPN networks had one of their strongest weekends of the 2021 college football season as ESPN and ABC aired the four most-watched games of Week 8, including the top game in the noon, afternoon and primetime windows. Overall, ESPN networks were responsible for two-thirds of all college football game minutes watched in Week 8.

The most-watched game of the weekend was Tennessee at Alabama (7 p.m. ET, ESPN), averaging 4.7 million viewers to become the most-viewed college football game on cable this year. The primetime presentation is also the most-viewed game of the rivalry since Oct. 15, 2016, when both SEC teams ranked in the top 10.

ABC’s afternoon action featuring Oregon and UCLA registered 3.8 million viewers, ranking in the top five of most-viewed Pac-12 conference games since 2017 across all networks. The audience peaked with five million viewers and is the most-viewed Pac-12 regular season matchup since Nov. 23, 2019 (Oregon/Arizona State).

The 9OT thriller between Illinois and Penn State in the ABC noon window recorded 3.8 million viewers, peaking with 7.4 million viewers in the final overtime. In primetime, ABC Saturday Night Football Presented by Capital One notched 3.35 million viewers as Ohio State defeated Indiana in Bloomington. All six games on ESPN and ABC on Saturday surpassed two million viewers, just the fourth time in the past three seasons ESPN networks reached that milestone.

ESPN boasted its most-viewed week of games of the 2021 season, averaging 2.5 million viewers across four games in Week 8 (Thursday and Saturday). Viewership is up 137 percent year-over-year for Week 8 and up four percent from 2019. Additionally, ABC was up 15 percent year-over-year and ESPN2 was up more than 40 percent from Week 8 in 2020 and 2019.

College GameDay Built by The Home Depot‘s first-ever visit to the UCLA campus registered 1.7 million viewers, landing on top Saturday morning among college football pregame shows with more than two million viewers in the final hour.

Amanda Brooks

Amanda is the Communications Manager for ESPN College Football and SEC Network, and oversees publicity for college gymnastics and track & field across all ESPN networks. Amanda is a proud alum of Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., and earned her master's in ethics from Vanderbilt University. A native of Kent, Ohio, she is a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan.
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