College Football Week 5: ABCs Saturday Night Football Delivers Sports Highest Audience across All Networks; ESPNs Networks Air Six of Seven Most-Watched Games

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  • SNF Beats Fox in Prime-Time by 75%; Helps ABC Win the Night for Fifth Consecutive Week 
  • ESPN Televises Six Most-Watched Games on Cable 
  • Season-to-Date: ESPN/ESPN2 Has Aired Top 13 Most-Watched Games on Cable; 24 of Top 25

ABC’s Saturday Night Football was the most-watched game of college football’s week 5 across all networks and ESPN’s networks combined to televise 6 of the 7 most watched games. On cable, ESPN televised the six most watched games.

ABC’s Saturday Night Football: Most-Watched Prime-Time Game Every Week This Season
ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring Clemson at Virginia Tech (8 p.m.) delivered a total live audience of 4,693,000 viewers, beating Fox’ TV-only prime time audience by 75% and helping ABC win the night among all broadcast networks across households, viewers and all key male and adult demos (M18-34, M18-49, M25-54, P18-34, P18-49 and P25-54).

Through the season’s first month, SNF has been the premier franchise in all of college football:

  • Top in Prime Time: Aired the most-watched prime time game each of the five weeks of the
    season and, in four of the five weeks, the most-viewed game overall.
  • Winning Head-to-Head: Average Audience 137% greater than Fox’ prime time audience
  • ABC Beats All Networks: In all five weeks of the college football season, SNF helped ABC win the night among all broadcast and cable networks across households, viewers and all key male and adult demos (M18-34, M18-49, M25-54, P18-34, P18-49 and P25-54).

ESPN Sets the Pace on Cable; Up in Numerous Windows, Sets Season a High
ESPN’s prime time telecast featuring Ole Miss at Alabama (9 p.m.) averaged a Nielsen total live audience of 3,028,000 viewers, most-watched game on cable in week 5. The audience for Alabama’s lopsided victory was up 195% from the network’s late night game last season (Arizona at UCLA, 10:30 p.m.). Additional highlights:

  • Earlier in the day, Vanderbilt at Florida (noon, ESPN) delivered a Nielsen Total Audience of 2,815,000 live television viewers, ESPN’s most-watched afternoon game this season. Additionally, the SEC East contest was up 34% from last year’s comparable game (Notre Dame at Syracuse).
  • On Friday, USC at Washington State (10:30 p.m.) earned a Nielsen Total Audience of 2,776,000 live television viewers, the seventh most-watched game on cable this season.
    • The Trojans-Cougars followed Miami and Duke (7 p.m.), which earned a Nielsen Total Audience of 1,709,000 live television viewers. The two games on ESPN outdrew  FS1’s single game telecast  by 159% and 60%, respectively.

2017 Season on Cable: ESPN and ESPN2 Top the Charts
Through the first month of the season, ESPN has aired the 10 most-watched games on cable, led by Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech on Labor Day night (5,141,000 TV-only viewers). Factoring in ESPN2, the two networks have combined to televise the 13 most-watched cable games of the season and 24 of the top 25 games.

Please note: Florida State at Wake Forest (3:30 p.m.) and Northwestern at Wisconsin (noon) with a total live audience of 2,955,000 viewers and 2,890,000 viewers, respectively, were among the most-watched games this week.

ESPN introduced a new reporting structure on Sept. 25, with more details available here. Of note, Nielsen’s reported numbers now reflect a portion of the streaming audience for ESPN and  ESPN2. For ABC, ESPN’s internal streaming numbers are used to generate a total live audience.

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