ESPN/ABC Airs Four of the Top Five Most-Watched Games of Week 3; College GameDay Crushes in Colorado

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ESPN/ABC Airs Four of the Top Five Most-Watched Games of Week 3; College GameDay Crushes in Colorado

  • Colorado’s Comeback Thriller Registers 9.3 Million Viewers – ESPN’s Fifth Most-Watched College Football Game On Record; Shatters Previous ESPN Late Prime Viewership High
  • Tennessee/Florida on ESPN Records 5.3 Million Viewers
  • College GameDay in Colorado Cruises to Its Best September Episode Since 2010

For the third consecutive week, ESPN platforms presented the most-viewed college football game of the week, as Colorado State/Colorado delivered 9.3 million viewers on ESPN in the late prime window. The Rocky Mountain matchup is ESPN’s fifth most-watched game on record (since 1990) and ESPN’s most-streamed regular season college football game on record.

The Rams/Buffs battle becomes ESPN’s most-watched late prime game all time and is ESPN and ABC’s fourth best regular season game (excluding conference championships) in six years. The audience peaked with 11.1 million viewers from 11-11:15 p.m. ET.

The top five markets for Colorado State/Colorado:

Rank Market Rating
1 Denver 16.3
2 Birmingham 13.7
3 Knoxville 10.0
4 New Orleans 9.3
5 Tulsa 8.7

ESPN Platforms Serve Strong Showing for Third Straight Week
Overall, ESPN platforms registered four of the top five games in Week 3 and represented 65 percent of all college football viewing minutes across all networks. ESPN platforms also own the top three most-watched games of the 2023 season through Week 3.

Saturday saw 3.5 million average viewers across all ESPN platforms (total day viewing), marking its most-viewed regular season college football Saturday in nearly a decade (Nov. 2014). This weekend featured the top Sunday (12.1 million uniques) and No. 2 Saturday (16.5 million uniques) ever for college football content across ESPN digital platforms.

Additional Viewership Highlights:

  • Tennessee at Florida on ESPN: The Vols/Gators showdown recorded 5.3 million viewers in primetime on ESPN, the fourth best regular season college football game on ESPN since 2019.
  • In addition to four of the top five most-watched games of the week, ESPN platforms scored seven of the top 10 most-viewed games of Week 3.
  • ESPN platforms won the weekday, Saturday noon, Saturday prime and Saturday late prime windows this week.
Rank Window (ET) Matchup Platform P2+ Viewers
1 Late Prime Colorado State at No. 18 Colorado ESPN 9.3M
3 Prime No. 11 Tennessee at Florida ESPN 5.3M
4 Afternoon No. 10 Alabama at South Florida ABC 4.8M
5 Noon No. 3 Florida State at Boston College ABC 3.5M
8 Noon No. 14 LSU at Mississippi State ESPN 2.8M
9 Prime Pittsburgh at West Virginia ABC 2.4M
10 Afternoon Minnesota at No. 20 North Carolina ESPN 1.6M

College GameDay Kicks Off Historic Viewership Day in Colorado
College GameDay Built by The Home Depot delivered a banner day from Boulder, with the premier pre-game show averaging 2.3 million viewers across ESPN and ESPNU – GameDay’s best September episode since 2010 – to take the top spot among all college football pre-game shows across all networks. In the final hour, 3 million viewers tuned in for the legendary Lee Corso’s 400th Headgear Pick as ESPN platforms averaged 2.5 times as many viewers as the competition.

The 2023 college football season continues in Week 4 with more than half the Top 25 teams in action on ESPN platforms, including No. 19 Colorado at No. 10 Oregon (3:30 p.m., ABC). Full schedule.

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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