ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot Delivers Recording-Breaking Season as the Most-Watched Regular Season Ever
- GameDay remains the most-watched sports news / studio show on cable and college football’s most-watched pregame show
- Digital and social deliver notable year-over-year growth
- Four new host schools highlight the milestone 2022 season
ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot delivered substantial viewership growth during the 2022 college football season to mark its most-watched regular season and second most-watched overall season in the show’s 36-year history. The historic campaign included visits to four new campus sites, including two FCS stops and seven trips to top-10 matchups. In all, the premier pregame show has now hosted 436 road shows.
During the record-breaking year, GameDay averaged 2.1 million viewers and increased viewership in all key demographics with an overall 8% increase across all viewers. Female viewership alone rose by 10% from 2021.
Including conference championship week, GameDay recorded its second most-watched overall season ever and most-watched season since the show expanded to three hours in 2013. College GameDay remains the most-watched sports news and studio show on cable and college football’s No. 1 pregame show, outpacing the competition by 70% overall and 104% in the final hour.
GameDay’s most-watched show of 2022 was Week 13 at the Michigan-Ohio State game, averaging 2.4 million viewers, including 3.1 million in the final hour. Overall, it was the program’s seventh most-watched telecast on record.
Familiar Favorites and Notable Newcomers
College GameDay’s familiar faces returned this fall with host Rece Davis at the helm for his eighth season, joining Michigan Heisman Trophy winner and College Football Hall of Famer Desmond Howard (17th season) and Emmy Award-winning analyst Kirk Herbstreit (26th season) at the desk. Legendary coach Lee Corso has now notched 394 all-time headgear picks, going 9-1 in 2022.
Georgia All-American and College Football Hall of Famer David Pollack returned for his 11th season on the show along with veteran reporters Gene Wojciechowski (12th season) and Jen Lada (seventh season), who brought remarkable and impactful stories week after week including Wojciechowski’s feature on Michigan football and Demetrius ‘Meechie’ Walker and Lada’s story on Clemson’s Bryan Bresee and his sister Ella.
Pat McAfee joined the team in Week 2 after signing a new multi-year deal to become a full-time analyst on the show. In addition, fitness instructor and in-arena host Jess Sims joined the cast as a GameDay reporter, while award-winning college football writer Pete Thamel contributed to the show in his first season with ESPN.
Research producer Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica was celebrated during the Big 12 Championship show as he made one final appearance on GameDay, concluding his 29th season.
Big 12 leads all conferences with four GameDay visits
The Big 12 led all conferences with four GameDay visits in 2022. The show traveled to Texas (twice), Kansas and to the Dr Pepper Big 12 Conference Championship in Arlington. In all, GameDay visited eight different conferences over 14 weeks this season: ACC (1), Big Ten (2), Big 12 (4), Big Sky (1), Pac-12 (1), SEC (3), SWAC (1) and Sun Belt (1).
College GameDay traveled far and wide during the 2022 season, notching four first-time stops to bring the premier pregame show’s total visits to 80 different schools and 99 different cities all time. GameDay made its first stop in Boone, N.C., for Appalachian State during Week 3 before making its way to Kansas in Week 6.
In Week 9, Jackson State took center stage as the first Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) campus to host the show and the fourth trip all-time to a game featuring Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Another first for the record books – GameDay’s Week 12 stop at Montana State marked the coldest show on record (-3 degrees Fahrenheit) as well as the first Big Sky Conference school to host and the second visit to an FCS site in 2022. Montana became the 41st state where GameDay has hosted a show.
The first-time stops brought in the viewers as well – App State, Kansas and Montana State shows all topped 2.1 million viewers, while Jackson State scored 1.8 million viewers, adding to the record-breaking season.
By the Numbers
Social and Digital Delivers
- GameDay’s social platforms added to the success of the season – the show’s TikTok account eclipsed 1 million followers in only its second season, complementing the show’s Twitter (3 million followers), Facebook (2 million) and Instagram (1 million) accounts
- Total engagement across GameDay social platforms was up 518% from 2021 while total video views were up 640% across all platforms. GameDay TikTok alone accumulated over 251 million views throughout the regular season
- ESPN’s weekly digital and social show Countdown to GameDay saw significant increases during its sophomore season. Co-hosted by Christine Williamson, Harry Douglas and Harry Lyles Jr., Countdown brought in 12.2 million total viewers, a 25% year-over-year increase and marked a 20% increase in average weekly viewers
- ESPN Audio’s re-launched College GameDay podcast, featuring Rece Davis and Pete Thamel, along with David Pollack and Bill Connelly, was available for the first time as on-demand video podcast on YouTube in addition to all audio platforms. By the end of the regular season, combined downloads and views were well over a million, with the show continuing through bowl season and offseason
- This season, ESPN.com enhanced its GameDay offerings and the show launched the College GameDay Hub, a new online destination where fans can access information about each week’s campus sites and more
- GameDay kicked off the season in Columbus with a special Week 1 performance by GRAMMY® nominated rapper Jack Harlow, who then joined the crew as the guest picker
- Other notable celebrity guest pickers this season included Luke Combs (Week 3, App State), Sabrina Ionescu – the show’s first WNBA picker (Week 8, Oregon), Peyton Manning (Week 7, Tennessee) and professional golfer Jordan Spieth (Week 11, Texas)
- ESPN launched a new creative campaign this year – ‘The Greatest Story Ever Played’ – promoting the 2022 college football season. The second ad in the series highlighted the story behind the Washington State Cougars’ flag and its GameDay history
- GameDay even launched its own personalized cereals to commemorate Rivalry Week in November
- Disney Advertising celebrated its longest-running sponsorship this year with the 20th anniversary of The Home Depot as the title sponsor of GameDay
- Nine brands supported GameDay during the 2022 season with newcomers DoorDash and Old Dominion Freight Line joining The Home Depot, Aflac, AT&T, Coors Light, GEICO, Goodyear and Pizza Hut
The Show Goes On
College GameDay will wrap up the 2022-23 college football season with special editions originating from the College Football Playoffs semifinal at the Peach Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31, from 9 a.m. – noon ET ahead of No. 1 Georgia and No. 4 Ohio State’s showdown for the National Championship spot (8 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App). The show will then close out the season at the CFP National Championship on Monday, Jan. 9, from 5-7 p.m. ET before the big game (7:30 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App).
Julie McKay, ESPN Communications – [email protected], @McKay_Julie