College Football Week 3 Viewership for ESPN’s Networks: ABC Airs Most-Watched Noon Game Window and Primetime Game; ESPN Airs Second Most-Watched Primetime Game, Garners Multi-Year High on Friday Night as Early-Season Momentum Continues

  • Pittsburgh-Penn State Delivers Big Result in Noon Window; Second Most-Watched Game of the Season in the Timeslot 
  • More than 7.1 Million Fans Combine to Watch ABC and ESPN in Primetime; ABC’s Saturday Night Football and ESPN’s Saturday Primetime Lead the Way Among All Night Games 
  • Season to Date: College Football has Driven ESPN’s Nets to “Win the Night” Six Times 
  • College GameDay Built by The Home Depot Increases Audience Year-Over-Year Again

ABC and ESPN continued its big start to the college football season in week 3, as this week ABC aired the most-watched game in the noon window and the two networks combined to air the two most-watched primetime games. Amongst all games and timeslots, the two networks aired three of the four most-watched games and ESPN set a multi-year viewership high for a Friday night game. The success included College GameDay Built by The Home Depot, as the 11-time Emmy winning show continues to grow its viewership year-over-year, both on a weekly and seasonal basis.

ABC Airs Most-Watched Noon Game Window
Pittsburgh at Penn State on ABC was the most-watched noon game window of the week across all networks and second most-watched game of the season in the timeslot. The ESPN CFB150 Showcase Game averaged 3,196,000 viewers, including a peak audience of 4.2 million viewers (3:45-3:56 p.m.). The 100th meeting between the schools resonated in the state, as Pittsburgh was the top market with 13.4 local rating followed by Philadelphia with a 6.8.

More than 7.1 Million Fans Combine to Watch ABC and ESPN in Primetime
ESPN and ABC combined for more than 7.1 million viewers in primetime, as the two networks led all telecasts – sports and non-sports — in primetime viewers on Saturday night. ABC’s Saturday Night Football between Clemson and Syracuse (7:30 p.m.) delivered 3,618,000 viewers and ESPN’s Florida at Kentucky (7 p.m.) averaged 3,137,000 viewers. Breaking the audience down further, both networks ranked first or second among all viewers and key male, female and adult demos (18-34, 18-49, 25-54).

Saturday Night Football Continues to Drive ABC to ‘Win the Night’; Franchise Up 27% for the Season
ABC’s Saturday Night Football has now “Won the Night” among viewers all three Saturday nights of the college football season (Aug. 31, Sept. 7, Sept. 14 ) and is up 27% year-over-year. Combining week 0 (Aug. 24), ESPN’s networks have ‘Won the Night’ four consecutive Saturday nights. Factoring in the entire five-day Kickoff Weekend (Aug. 29 – Sept. 2), college football has led ESPN’s nets to “Win the Night” night six times this season. No other network has “Won the Night” this college football season.

College GameDay Grows Audience
College GameDay (9 a.m. – noon) averaged 1,753,000 viewers for its first trip to Ames, Iowa, up 3% from last year’s week 3 show. Overall, the show is up 3% from last year.

ESPN’s Friday Night Telecast Garners Most-Viewers in Multiple Years
ESPN’s Washington State vs. Houston (9 p.m.) telecast averaged 2,072,000 viewers, setting a multi-year high for a cable telecast on Friday night. The AdvoCare Texas Kickoff is ESPN’s most-watched Friday night game since October of 2017 (excluding Black Friday telecast). Overall, ESPN’s Friday night telecasts are up 51% this season.

Please note: College GameDay viewership includes ESPN and ESPNU for both this year and last year. Pitt at Penn State started at approximately 12:40 p.m. after a lightning delay.



Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner

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