via press release:
Millions Watch Season-Opening College Football on ESPN Networks
- Nearly 73 Million Tune to ESPN Platforms
- ESPN Nets televise Eight Most-Viewed Games & 13 of Weekend’s Top 15
- Saturday Night Football Wins Night Among Viewers, is Weekend’s Most-Viewed Program Among Adults 18-49 & Posts Most-Viewed Opening Since 2006
- Millions Go to ESPN Mobile Offerings
- Four-Hour College GameDay Surpasses 2012 Opener
- Birmingham Top Market
Fans have been waiting for college football to return and millions of them went to ESPN to fulfill their appetite during a five-day opening buffet to the 2013 season. ESPN drew large audiences for its studio and game action across multiple television and digital networks, surpassing every competitor offering college football content.
Overall, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNEWS combined to reach nearly 73,000,000 viewers for game telecasts from Thursday, Aug. 29 to Monday, Sept. 2.
Most-viewed games across all networks
ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU combined to the eight most-viewed games across all networks and 13 of the top 15 over the five days. All eight of the most-viewed games drew at least 2,740,000 viewers led by four games with over four million viewers:
- No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson (Saturday, Aug. 31, 8 p.m. ET, ABC): 8,137,000 viewers and a 4.8 US rating
- No. 1 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (Saturday, Aug. 31, 5:30 p.m., ESPN): 5,169,000 viewers and a 3.0 US rating
- No. 11 Florida State at Pitt (Monday, Sept. 2, 8 p.m., ESPN): 4,465,000 viewers and a 2.9 US rating
- Rice at No. 7 Texas A&M (Saturday, Aug. 31, 1 p.m., ESPN): 4,208,000 viewers and a 2.7 US rating
Saturday Night Football Wins Night among Viewers & Weekend Among Adults 18-49
Saturday Night Football Presented by Windows, television’s most-viewed and highest-rated college football series in 2012, was the most-viewed program of the night among viewers across all networks, averaging 8,137,000 viewers and a 4.8 US rating. The telecast – No. 8 Clemson topping No. 5 Georgia 38-35 – also drew key demographics, ranking as the top show among adults 18-49 for the weekend and the number one program among men 18-49 across every network for the week. Saturday’s telecast was the series’ most-viewed season-opener since the its debut in 2006 and most-viewed game of the weekend.
ESPN Digital platforms post significant audience growth
ESPN Digital Media’s college football content across all platforms – ESPN.com, the ESPN Mobile Web college football section, ESPN’s ScoreCenter app, WatchESPN/ESPN3 and the ESPN College Football app – averaged an audience of 121,000 per day, marking an increase of 10 percent over the first five days in 2012. Highlights:
- From Thursday to Monday, ESPN’s ScoreCenter, the number one free sports app, averaged 4,600,000 unique visitors per day with an average minute audience of 47,000, marking increases of 34 percent and 81 percent, respectively, over 2012. The college football section on ESPN Mobile Web saw 1,900,000 daily unique visitors and an average minute audience of 15,000 for increases of 18 percent and 19 percent, respectively, over last season.
- On Saturday, Aug. 31, nearly 6,000,000 fans accessed the ScoreCenter app (up 31 percent from 2012) with an average minute audience of 92,000 (up 87 percent over 2012). ESPN’s College Football app reached 1,100,000 unique visitors (up 86 percent over 2012) with an average minute audience of more than 10,000 (up 136 percent over 2012).
ESPN platforms drew large audiences from morning to morning on the first Saturday of the 2013 season, reaching 35,000,000 viewers on ESPN specifically for its game and studio coverage. The average audience of 3,541,000 viewers for nearly the 16 hours of programming is higher than every other game across any non-ESPN network for the weekend.
- ESPN began Saturday with a special four-hour College GameDay (from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) that averaged a 2,112,000 viewers and a 1.4 US rating. The program originating from Clemson outperformed last season’s 1,899,000 viewers for a two-hour season-opening show.
- ABC’s split regional game in the afternoon – No. 13 Oklahoma State beating Mississippi State 21-3 and Penn State over Syracuse 23-17 – also drew large audiences, averaging 3,665,000 viewers and a 2.4 US rating.
- The third game of ESPN’s tripleheader – No. 12 LSU’s 37-27 victory over No. 20 TCU – was the sixth most-viewed game of the day with 3,172,000 viewers and a 1.9 US rating.
- ESPN2 kicked off the season with a strong 1,886,000 viewers and a 1.1 US rating for No. 2 Ohio State’s 40-20 victory over Buffalo at noon. The telecast marks an 83 percent increase over ESPN2’s first noon game in 2012 (Northwestern at Syracuse averaged a 0.6 rating).
- ESPNU also posted large audiences for its Saturday telecasts, highlighted by 922,000 viewers and a 0.5 US rating for Auburn’s 31-24 victory over Washington State. The prime time telecast averaged more viewers than any cable network other than ESPN or ESPN2.
ABC, ESPN and ESPN2’s opening week of game telecasts experienced audience increases over the first weekend of 2012: ABC is averaging 5,932,000 viewers for a 5 percent increase (vs. 5,663,000); ESPN is averaging 3,378,000 viewers, marking a 4 percent increase (vs. 3,240,000); and ESPN2 is averaging 1,255,000 viewers for a 57 percent increase (vs. 799,000).
Thursday setting the pace
ESPN kicked off the season on Thursday, Aug. 29, with nearly one million viewers for College Football Live Kick Off, a one-hour pregame originating from the North Carolina at No. 6 South Carolina matchup, the first game of an ESPN doubleheader. The opening doubleheader – South Carolina defeating North Carolina 27-10 and Ole Miss beating Vanderbilt 39-35 – was the network’s second highest-rated and third most-viewed Thursday night season-opening since 1999, averaging a combined 2.1 US rating and 3,135,000 viewers.
Birmingham leading the markets
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 five days of game telecasts, with a 14.5 rating. New Orleans is second (7.7) followed by Greenville (6.5); Nashville (5.4); Memphis and Knoxville (5.2); Louisville, Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin (4.5) and Jacksonville (4.4).