ESPN networks secured a strong Saturday showing in Week 11, as ABC/ESPN registered multi-year viewership highs and several marquee matchups set the stage for a primetime sweep.
ESPN leaned into a strong Big Ten doubleheader and a top 15 matchup in the SEC to deliver its most-viewed week of the year. Overall, viewers watched 5.3 billion minutes of live games on Saturday, making it the most-watched day of the college football season across ESPN networks. ESPN platforms were responsible for 64% of the minutes watched in Week 11 and aired four of the top six most-watched games on Saturday.
Michigan at Penn State (noon ET, ABC) was the most-viewed game of Week 11 across all networks with 5,942,000 viewers. It ranks as ABC’s most-viewed noon or afternoon game of the season and fifth-best game overall. The audience for Wolverines-Nittany Lions peaked with 8.7 million viewers as Michigan edged Penn State for the win.
ABC’s B1G Saturday aided the network in airing its most-viewed November Saturday of games since 2016. The 3:30 p.m. matchup of Purdue and Ohio State recorded 4,739,000 viewers on ABC, ESPN networks’ most-viewed game in the afternoon window since Week 1. Across the trio of matchups, ABC averaged 4,701,000 viewers, its most-viewed tripleheader since Week 1 and most-watched November Saturday since Nov. 26, 2016.
ESPN/ABC Reign Supreme in Primetime
Texas A&M at Ole Miss (3.5 million viewers, ESPN) and Notre Dame at Virginia (3.3 million viewers, ABC) helped ESPN and ABC rank as the top two networks in primetime among all viewers and all key male and adult demos for a second consecutive week. In the average minute, 7.6 million viewers and 2.4 million P18-49 viewers were watching college football on ESPN networks from 8-11 p.m.
CFB Viewership Continues to Experience Exponential Year-Over-Year Growth
For the second straight week, viewership across ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 is up at least double digits from Week 11 in 2020 and 2019. ABC aired its most-viewed Week 11 since 2016 and was up 13 percent from the same week in 2020 and 20 percent from 2019. ESPN was up more than 50 percent from both 2020 (50 percent) and 2019 (57 percent), while ESPN2 was up 91 percent from the same week in 2020 and up 32 percent from 2019. ABC and ESPN both posted audiences above their season averages.
Additional Viewership Highlights:
- Washington State at Oregon (1,991,000 viewers, ESPN): Most-viewed game starting after 10 p.m. on any network since Sept. 8, 2018 (Michigan State-Arizona State)
- North Carolina at Pittsburgh (1,213,000 viewers, ESPN): ESPN’s second-best Thursday game this year
- Kansas at Texas (487,000 viewers, ESPNU): Most-viewed game of the year on ESPNU. Kansas has now participated in the top game on ESPNU in 2021, the second-most-watched game on ESPN2 and third-ranked noon/afternoon game on ESPN
College GameDay’s Return Trip to The Grove Garners Second-Best Viewership of 2021
College GameDay Built by The Home Depot‘s trip to The Grove at Ole Miss registered 1,962,000 viewers, making it GameDay’s second-most-watched telecast of the season. College GameDay remains tops among Saturday morning college football pregame shows, and 2,460,000 viewers tuned in for the final hour. The show is up 44 percent from 2020’s Week 11 show, which was GameDay‘s once-in-a-lifetime telecast from The Masters.