ESPN Platforms Score Most-Watched College Football Regular Season in Five Years

College FootballRatings

ESPN Platforms Score Most-Watched College Football Regular Season in Five Years


  • ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 up 7 percent vs. 2021, ESPN up 22 percent
  • 53 percent share of live college football game minutes holds strong vs. 2021
  • Most streamed season ever

It’s trophy-lifting season and ESPN is raising one of its own after a record-breaking college football regular season across ESPN platforms. ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 averaged a combined 2.1 million viewers, up 7 percent from 2021 and the most-watched regular season since 2017.

ESPN averaged 2.2 million viewers, up double digits from each of the previous four seasons. ESPN was also up 22 percent among P2+ viewers and 28 percent among P18-49 viewers from 2021. The network’s weekday games (28 percent), early primetime games (34 percent) and late prime games (24 percent) were all up substantially over 2021. ESPN’s college networks, SEC Network and ACC Network, are also both up double digits year-over-year.

Digital Delivers Season-Long Successes
A total of 4.1 billion minutes of live college football games were streamed across ESPN’s owned and operated platforms and select MVPD access points, up 10 percent from 2021. In all, 2022 is the most-streamed season ever across ESPN platforms and the most-watched college football season ever on ESPN+.

137 million unique devices have interacted with college football digital content on ESPN platforms since the start of Week 0, up 10 percent year-over-year. The top nine days ever for college football digital consumption, based on unique viewers, were Saturdays during the 2022 season. Total minutes (8 percent), visits (12 percent) and manual video starts (16 percent) were up year-over-year.

Superlatives by the Numbers

  • ESPN platforms aired six of the top 15 games this season, the most of any media company
  • ESPN platforms presented 24 of the top 50 games this season
  • ESPN platforms televised the top 33 games on cable this season
  • ESPN platforms aired the top game in 33 of 51 Saturday game windows (noon, afternoon, prime, late prime) throughout the season
  • ESPN platforms were responsible for 53 percent of live college football game minutes viewed across nationally-rated linear networks, on par with 2021
  • Primetime presentations across ESPN platforms were the most-viewed college football games in the window in 12 of 13 weeks
  • ESPN platforms were the most-viewed across all networks and genres in primetime 11 different times this season, and ABC and ESPN were the top two networks in primetime across all networks and genres on six different Saturdays
  • During the average regular season Saturday, 4M viewers and 2.7M P18-49 viewers were watching ABC or ESPN college football in the average minute in primetime (excludes Week 6 with no game on ESPN)

Top 15 Most-Watched Games – All Networks:

Top-15 Rank Date Matchup Platform P2+ Viewers
5 Sat, Sep 3 Notre Dame at Ohio State ABC 10.5 million
8 Sat, Nov 5 Alabama at LSU ESPN 7.6 million
9 Sun, Sep 4 Florida State at LSU ABC 7.6 million
11 Fri, Nov 25 Florida at Florida State ABC 6.7 million
12 Sat, Nov 26 Notre Dame at USC ABC 6.7 million
13 Sat, Nov 19 Ohio State at Maryland ABC 6.6 million

* Among college football games across all networks during 2022 season

Individual Game Highlights

  • Week 1
    • ESPN platforms averaged 2.9M viewers across all games in Week 1, the best Kickoff Weekend since 2016 and the second best since 2009. ABC’s second most-viewed Kickoff Weekend on record and ESPN’s most-watched Week 1 in six years.
    • ABC Saturday Night Football’s opening game of Notre Dame-Ohio State drew 10.5M viewers, the network’s most-viewed regular season college football game since 2017 and the second largest audience for a Week 1 Saturday game on record.
    • Florida State-LSU recorded 7.6M viewers on ABC – the third-best Opening Week Sunday game on record.
    • West Virginia-Pittsburgh averaged 3.2M viewers – ESPN’s most-viewed Opening Thursday game since 2017.
    • Clemson-Georgia Tech posted 4.9M viewers on Labor Day Monday, ESPN’s most-watched weekday game in three years.
  • Week 2
    • Kentucky-Florida (4.3M viewers, ESPN) was the most-watched September Saturday game on ESPN since 2018.
    • Louisville-UCF (1.8M viewers, ESPN2) was the network’s most-watched regular season CFB game since 2017.
  • Week 10
    • Alabama-LSU (7.6M viewers, ESPN) was ESPN’s most-watched regular season game since 2016 and the network’s sixth best regular season Saturday game ever.
  • Week 11
    • TCU-Texas (5.0M viewers, ABC) was the top Big 12 Conference game of the year.
  • Week 12
    • Ohio State-Maryland (6.6M viewers, ABC) drew the network’s top late afternoon audience since 2017.
    • Tennessee-South Carolina (4.9M viewers, ESPN) was ESPN’s second-best game this season and a top 10 regular season game on the network in the past five years.
    • Utah-Oregon (2.5M viewers, ESPN) was ESPN’s most-watched Saturday game to start after 10 p.m. since 2015.
  • Week 13
    • ABC’s most-watched Rivalry Week since 2016
    • Florida-Florida State (6.7M viewers, ABC) was the most-watched Friday game on any network since 2011 and best Thanksgiving Friday game on ABC since 2005.
    • Notre Dame-USC (6.7M viewers, ABC) posted the rivalry’s second-best audience in the past decade.

Local Market Ratings Roar in Primetime
ABC Saturday Night Football Presented by Capital One

Rank Market Rating
1 Columbus, OH 9.0
2 Dayton 6.4
3 Oklahoma City 5.9
4 Greenville-Sprtnburg-Ash 5.4
5 Tulsa 5.3
6 Detroit 5.1
7 Cleveland 4.7
8 Cincinnati 3.7
9 Birmingham 3.3
10 Nashville 3.2

ESPN Primetime Top 10 Markets

Rank Market Rating
1 Birmingham 15.8
2 Knoxville 9.3
3 New Orleans 8.5
4 Greenville-Sprtnburg-Ash 6.0
5 Nashville 6.0
6 Atlanta 5.3
7 Jacksonville-N. Brunswk. 4.6
8 Memphis 4.5
9 Louisville 4.0
10 Columbus, OH 3.0


Amanda Brooks

Amanda is the Senior Director of Communications overseeing publicity strategy for ESPN’s entire college sports portfolio, including college football and the College Football Playoff, 40 NCAA Championships and ESPN's college 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 Guardians fan.
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