College football’s five-day kickoff weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 4) continues to be record-setting for ESPN’s networks as ABC aired both the highest-rated kickoff weekend game ever on record and the highest-rated non-primetime kickoff game ever on Saturday, while the two individual games shattered multiple streaming records in the process. Yesterday’s success has created a kickoff weekend trend for ESPN’s networks, as the network’s MegaCast production for Ohio State at Indiana on Thursday smashed records and ESPN’s first Friday night telecast of the season saw significant growth. As a result, ESPN’s networks have aired the highest-rated game in each of the first three days of the kickoff weekend.
Florida State vs. Alabama: ABC/ESPN Highest-Rated Kickoff Weekend Game On Record; Michigan vs. Florida: Best Non-Prime-time Kickoff Weekend Record
ABC’s Saturday Night Football’s telecast of the historic, unprecedented matchup of No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 1 Alabama earned a monster 7.3 overnight rating and had a streaming audience of 237,000 viewers in the average minute becoming ESPN’s networks highest-rated and most-streamed kickoff weekend game on record. Michigan vs. Florida, also on ABC (3:30 p.m.), earned a 5.0 overnight and had a streaming audience of 182,000 viewers in the average minute, becoming the highest-rated and most-streamed non-prime time kickoff game on record.
The average minute streaming audience for Alabama’s victory is ESPN’s second most-streamed regular season game ever, surpassing every September and October game ESPN/ABC has ever televised and trailing only last season’s double overtime Michigan-Ohio State game all-time. The streaming audience is up 134% from ABC’s Saturday Night Football first game last season (USC vs. Alabama).
The average minute streaming audience for the Wolverines win is ESPN/ABC’s second best Saturday kickoff weekend audience ever, trailing only the aforementioned Florida State-Alabama game and up 21% from the same time slot last year (Wisconsin vs. LSU).
The overnight TV rating for the Alabama victory is up 49% from last season’s ABC Saturday Night Football opener, with the Wolverines game showing window growth year over year as well.
ESPN Obliterates the Competition on the Season’s First Saturday
College football’s first full Saturday saw ESPN’s networks generate 78% of the gross overnight rating points across all rated-networks. The average overnight rating for the seven games on ESPN/ABC was a 2.8 overnight, while Fox/FS1 averaged a 1.0 overnight for its four games. Comparing the four games on ESPN to the four games on FS1 + FOX Sports, ESPN alone beat them in gross rating points (4.1 to 3.9) without factoring in ABC. Also, ABC aired the three highest-rated games on Saturday, with the Akron at Penn State game (noon), joining the aforementioned two record-breaking games.
College Football and US Open Result in ESPN’s Extraordinary Streaming Numbers
The first Saturday of the college football season, combined with US Open coverage, resulted in one of the largest days ever for ESPN streaming usage, as 3,600,000 unique users viewed 255,000,000 minutes, good for third in both categories in any single day.
*Overnight data exists back to 2004 for ABC and 2001 for ESPN.
Kickoff Weekend Continues: Ranked Matchup Between Big 12 and ACC on Special Sunday Night Presentation; No. 25 Tennessee Highlights ESPN’s Traditional Labor Day Night Matchup
For the second straight year, ABC televises a special Sunday night prime-time game to commemorate the season’s first week: the only top-25 matchup of the night features the Big 12 and the ACC when No. 22 West Virginia plays No. 21 Virginia Tech (Tonight at 7:30 p.m.) from FedExField in Landover, Md. Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Todd McShay will be on the call, as they begin their second season working together.
ESPN will conclude its opening week slate with its traditional Labor Day Night Game, this year featuring the second 2017 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game: No. 25 Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech (8 p.m. on ESPN) in an SEC-ACC matchup. The Volunteers-Yellow Jackets matchup is also from Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as ESPN will produce the stadium’s first two college football games in a 48-hour span. Herbstreit concludes his stretch with the call, and Rece Davis will be on the play-by-play as Chris Fowler will return to New York City for the US Open. Maria Taylor will be on the sidelines.