via press release:
ESPN Networks Draw Large Audiences for College Football
Georgia at Clemson Highest-Rated Game; Four-Hour College GameDay Draws Larger Rating; Birmingham Top Market for ESPN Tripleheader
The first Saturday of the 2013 college football season on August 31 kicked off with a large audience for a four-hour College GameDay Built by The Home Depot and continued with game and studio coverage across ESPN networks. ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU all posted significant overnight ratings, led by a 5.0 rating for the ABC Saturday Night Football Presented by Windows telecast – No. 8 Clemson topping No. 5 Georgia 38-35. The prime time opener was the highest-rated college football game of the weekend and outperformed a 4.7 overnight rating for last season’s first Saturday Night Football matchup (Michigan vs. Alabama).
Overall, ESPN’s three game telecasts and ABC’s two windows were the five highest-rated games on Saturday, Aug. 31.
ESPN posted large audiences from morning to morning, averaging a 2.3 metered market rating for college football programming from College GameDay at 9 a.m. ET to the end of LSU vs. TCU at 12:43 a.m. (Sunday, Sept. 1). The combined rating for nearly 16 hours of college football studio and game coverage is higher than every other game across any non-ESPN network for the weekend. Highlights:
ESPN’s telecast of No. 1 Alabama defeating Virginia Tech 35-10 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic posted a 3.1 metered market rating, the second highest game of the day across any platform.
No. 7 Texas A&M defeating Rice 52-31 at 1 p.m. kicked off the day with a 2.9 rating while No. 12 LSU’s 37-27 victory over No. 20 TCU averaged a strong 1.9 rating.
ESPN began the day with a special four-hour College GameDay (Saturday, Aug. 31, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) that averaged a strong 1.5 metered market rating. The program originating from Clemson outperformed last season’s 1.3 rating for a two-hour season-opening show.
Birmingham, the highest-rated metered market for ESPN’s regular-season game telecasts for 12 consecutive seasons, began 2013 in an impressive fashion. The football-hungry market took the top spot for ESPN’s three game telecasts on Saturday, Aug. 31, with a 22.6 rating. New Orleans is second (13.7) followed by Austin (6.5), Knoxville (6.4) and Memphis (6.4).
ESPN2 also kicked off the season with a large audience, averaging a 1.5 overnight rating for No. 2 Ohio State’s 40-20 victory over Buffalo at noon. The telecast marks a 150 percent increase over ESPN2’s first noon game in 2012 (Northwestern at Syracuse averaged a 0.6 rating). ESPN2’s late game from 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. – Northwestern beating Cal 44-30 – posted a 0.6 rating.
In addition to ABC, ESPN and ESPN2, ESPNU posted strong viewership throughout the day. Its prime time coverage of Auburn defeating Washington State 31-24 averaged a 0.5 rating, tied for or better than every game against competing cable networks.