ESPN Platforms Boast Banner Year for College Football, as ABC Leads the Way with Most Total Minutes Watched and ESPN+ Streams the Platform’s Most-Watched Season Ever

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ESPN Platforms Boast Banner Year for College Football, as ABC Leads the Way with Most Total Minutes Watched and ESPN+ Streams the Platform’s Most-Watched Season Ever

  • 46 Percent Share of Live College Football Game Minutes Bests the Competition, More Than Second and Third Place Combined
  • ESPN Platforms Present Second Most-Watched Season Since 2016
  • ESPN+’s Most-Watched Season Ever

The 2023 college football season will go down in the record books as the most-consumed on record across all networks, and ESPN platforms rose to the challenge with multi-year viewership highs and the most-watched season ever for ESPN+. ABC led the way across all networks and media companies with more total minutes watched than any other individual network, as 24% of the sport’s viewers tuned in to ABC.

ESPN platforms delivered their second most-watched season since 2016, averaging nearly 1.7 million viewers per game across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. ABC finished on par with the 2022 season, producing its second-best season since 2017 with nearly 4 million viewers. ESPN aired its second most-watched season since 2017, averaging just over 2 million viewers.

ESPN+ scored its most-watched season ever, with college football games on the platform up 3% year-over-year in unique viewers and up 8% in minutes. This fall also saw ESPN+ register the top two days ever for live college football content (Sept. 2 & Sept. 9), and the platform presented three of the top four most-watched college football games ever for ESPN+ (No. 1: UT Martin at Georgia – Sept. 2; No. 3: Austin Peay at Tennessee – Sept. 9; No. 4 SMU at Oklahoma – Sept. 9).

ESPN is the Home of College Football

  • ESPN platforms scored four of the top 10 games this season, tied for the most of any media company.
  • ESPN platforms presented 21 of the top 50 games this season.
  • ESPN platforms televised the top 27 games on cable this season.
  • ESPN platforms were responsible for 46 percent of college football live game minutes viewed across nationally rated linear networks. This is the largest share of any media company, and more than the second and third companies combined.
  • ESPN platforms aired the most-viewed college football game in primetime in 8 of 13 weeks.
  • There were 11 games across nationally rated networks to draw more than 9 million viewers this season, the most in a single season in nearly three decades. ESPN platforms aired four of these games, the most ESPN has registered since the 2008 season.

Individual Game Highlights

  • ABC’s Week 1 Florida State-LSU (9.2M viewers) became the network’s most-watched Sunday opener since 2016.
  • ESPN’s Week 1 Florida-Utah (3.2M viewers) was ESPN’s most-watched Thursday opener since 2017.
  • ESPN’s Week 2 Texas-Alabama (8.0M viewers) became a top-10 regular season college football audience on record for the network (10th).
  • ESPN’s Week 3 Colorado State-Colorado (9.3M viewers) became the network’s fifth best regular season audience on record, and propelled ESPN to its most-viewed college football regular season Saturday since November 2014. It was also ESPN’s most-streamed regular season game on record.
  • ABC’s Week 4 Colorado-Oregon (10.0M viewers) was the most-viewed Pac-12 conference game since 2006.
  • ABC’s Week 6 Oklahoma-Texas (7.9M viewers) ranks as the second-best Red River Rivalry in a full national window on record.
  • ABC’s Week 7 Oregon-Washington (7.0M viewers) was the network’s second-best delivery in the late afternoon window in five seasons.
  • ESPN’s Week 13 Florida State-Florida (5.1M viewers) recorded the network’s best Thanksgiving weekend audience since 2018.
  • ABC’s Pac-12 Championship Game (9.2M viewers) was the most-viewed ever, and a top 5 regular season game for the network over the past five seasons.
  • ABC’s ACC Championship Game (7.0M viewers) recorded the fourth-best audience ever for this game and the second most-watched since 2014.

Local Market Ratings Roar in Primetime

ESPN Saturday Primetime Football

Rank Market Avg. Rating
1 Birmingham 13.4
2 Knoxville 8.1
3 New Orleans 5.7
4 Atlanta 4.9
5 Nashville 4.5
6 Memphis 4.2
7 Jacksonville-N. Brunswk. 4.0
8 Greenville-Sprtnburg-Ash 3.8
9 Louisville 3.4
10 Raleigh-Durham 3.3

ABC Saturday Night Football Presented by Capital One

Rank Market Avg. Rating
1 Austin 5.1
2 Oklahoma City 4.5
3 Birmingham 4.4
4 Greenville-Sprtnburg-Ash 4.3
5 Tulsa 3.9
6 Atlanta 3.8
7 Columbus, OH 3.8
8 Louisville 3.6
9 Seattle-Tacoma 3.5
10 Raleigh-Durham 3.3


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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