ESPN Platforms Deliver Most-Watched Rivalry Week Since 2016

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ESPN Platforms Deliver Most-Watched Rivalry Week Since 2016

  • Florida/Florida State Nets 6.7 Million Viewers, ABC’s Most-Viewed Friday Game Since 2005
  • Notre Dame/USC Scores 6.7 Million Viewers, Second Most-Watched Edition of the Rivalry in the Past Decade
  • College GameDay Remains on Pace for Best Season Ever, ESPN Platforms on Pace for Most-Viewed Season Since 2017
  • 9 Billion Minutes Consumed Across ESPN Platforms

ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 combined for their most-watched college football Rivalry Week since 2016, averaging 2.8 million viewers across the holiday weekend. ABC recorded its most-watched Rivalry Week since 2016, averaging 4.1 million viewers for six games on the broadcast slate. ESPN was up 38 percent year-over-year, with half a dozen games averaging 2.5 million viewers.

ABC’s primetime presentations over the holiday registered a plethora of viewership superlatives, including winning the night as the most-viewed network in primetime across all viewers and key demos on both Friday and Saturday night. Both broadcasts averaged 6.7 million viewers, registering among the top dozen games of the entire college football season across all networks and two of the top four on ESPN platforms.

The Sunshine State rivalry between Florida and Florida State (6.7M viewers) is the most-watched regular season Friday game since 2011 on any network, and the faceoff for the Florida Cup delivered ABC’s most-viewed Friday game since 2005. The Gators-Noles audience peaked at 7.5 million viewers Friday for ABC’s first Thanksgiving Friday college football broadcast in primetime.

Saturday’s Notre Dame-USC clash (6.7M viewers) ranks as the second most-watched edition of the rivalry in the past decade behind 2018 and peaked with 8.1 million viewers from 8:45-9 p.m. ET. Saturday night’s combined primetime audience throughout ESPN College Football programming was nearly 11 million viewers, the best Saturday across ESPN platforms since Kickoff Week.

Over the entire Thanksgiving Weekend, college football fans devoured nearly 19 billion minutes of the sport across all networks (ESPN and beyond), up 9 percent over 2021.

Through 13 weeks, ESPN platforms remain on pace for their most-viewed season since 2017 and are up 7 percent among P2+ viewers and 9 percent among P18-49 viewers from this point in 2021. ESPN is also on pace for its best season since 2016 and is up 22 percent year-over-year. ESPN will share a look at its cumulative regular season viewership later this week.

Additional Viewership Highlights:

  • LSU at Texas A&M (3.9M viewers, ESPN) – Sixth-best game on cable this season and up 64 percent from this matchup in the same window last year
  • NC State at North Carolina (3.6M viewers, ABC) – Up 32 percent from the same matchup on Thanksgiving Friday last year on ESPN
  • Washington at Washington State (2.4M viewers, ESPN) – The 2022 Apple Cup trails only Week 12’s Oregon-Utah game for the best game to begin past 10 p.m. since 2017
  • Mississippi State at Ole Miss (2.2M viewers, ESPN) – ESPN aired its most-watched game for the Egg Bowl rivalry since 2017
Top-10 Rank Window Matchup Network P2+ Viewers
2 Primetime Friday: Florida at Florida State ABC 6.7 million
3 Primetime Saturday: Notre Dame at USC ABC 6.7 million
6 Primetime Saturday: LSU at Texas A&M ESPN 3.9 million
7 Afternoon Friday: NC State at North Carolina ABC 3.6 million
8 Afternoon Saturday: Oregon at Oregon State ABC 3.6 million

* Among college football games across all networks in Week 13

Top Local Markets from Week 13

Florida at Florida State, ABC Notre Dame at USC, ABC
Market Rating Market Rating
Birmingham 14.7 Columbus, OH 7.4
Jacksonville 12.1 Portland 7.3
Orlando 8.6 Birmingham 7.3
West Palm Beach 8.4 Dayton 6.5
Greenville 8.1 Los Angeles 6.2

College GameDay’s Most-Watched Show of the Season in Columbus
College GameDay Built by The Home Depot delivered its most-watched telecast of this unprecedented season, averaging 2.4 million viewers for its Michigan-Ohio State preview to become the seventh most-watched telecast for College GameDay on record. Through Week 13, College GameDay remains on pace for its best season ever and is up double digits among both P2+ viewers and P18-49 viewers.

Amanda Brooks

Amanda is the Director of Communications 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 sports fan.
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