ESPN Earns The Most-Watched Kickoff Weekend Game On Record

ESPN’s college football kickoff weekend (Aug. 31 – Sept. 4) success continues as Florida State vs. Alabama last Saturday is now officially the most-watched college football opening weekend game on record across all networks and, on Sunday night, ABC beat Fox head-to-head by a substantial 32%.

Factoring in last night’s rating’s results, ESPN’s networks have aired the top rated game each of the first four nights of college football’s kickoff weekend.

Florida State vs. Alabama last Saturday is now officially the most-watched college football opening weekend game on record across all networks.

ABC’s Saturday Night Football Opens the Season with Most-Watched Kickoff Game on Record
ESPN’s networks have set a new college football kickoff weekend total live audience viewership record as ABC’s Saturday Night Football telecast of the historic matchup between Florida State vs. Alabama (Sept. 2 at 8 p.m.) delivered a total live audience of 12,560,000 viewers, now the most-watched kickoff weekend game ever across all networks — ESPN’s and competitors – surpassing last season’s Notre Dame at Texas game which also aired on ABC.

Seminoles-Crimson Tide: A Top 5 Most-Watched Regular Season Game on ABC Since 2006; Key Demos Up More than 50% 
In addition to setting new kickoff weekend records, the total live audience for Alabama’s victory is a top 5 regular season college football audience on ABC since 2006. On television, the Seminoles-Crimson Tide saw key demos (males: 18-34, 18-49 & 25-54 and persons: 18-49 and 25-54) up more than 50% compared to last season’s first ABC Saturday Night Football game of the season (USC vs. Alabama), while this season’s total live audience was up 56% overall to the same game. Saturday night’s TV audience peaked at 14,118,000 viewers (9 – 9:30 p.m.).

ESPN’s Networks: Set a New Kickoff Weekend Viewership Record for Third Consecutive Year
The massive total live audience for Alabama’s victory surpassed last season’s kickoff weekend double-overtime thriller between Notre Dame and Texas by a remarkable 13%. Now, ESPN’s networks have set a new, single game total live audience viewership record for three consecutive kickoff weekends:

Top Three Most-Watched Opening Weekend Games Across All Networks

Rank Total Live Audience  Game           Network Date 
1 12,560,000 Florida State vs. Alabama ABC Sept. 2, 2017
2 11,139,000 Notre Dame at Texas ABC Sept. 4, 2016
3 10,760,000 Ohio State at Virginia Tech ESPN Sept. 7, 2015


Sunday Night: ABC Televises Only Top 25 Game of the Night, Wins the Night vs. Fox; Kickoff Weekend Success Continues
ABC’s Sunday night Top 25 telecast of West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech (Sept. 3 at 7:30 p.m.) drew a 2.9 overnight rating, out-rating the college football game on Fox by 32%. Starting with the MegaCast for Ohio State at Indiana on Thursday night, and continuing Friday night with Wisconsin, one of the Big Ten’s marquee teams, Saturday night’s unprecedented Seminoles-Crimson Tide telecast and  Sunday’s rivalry game, ESPN’s networks have aired the highest-rated game each night of kickoff weekend. ESPN concludes kickoff weekend tonight when No. 25 Tennessee plays Georgia Tech (8 p.m. on ESPN) in the second 2017 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Records date back to 1990 for ESPN and 1996 for ABC. Competitive networks include CBS, Fox, FS1, FX, NBCSN and TBS. Data goes back as far to 1996 with CBS. TV data based on Fast Nationals.

Author: Sports Link Staff

Sports Link showcases Cardinal student-athletes’ accomplishments on the field, in the classroom and within the surrounding community. Follow @bsusportslink on all social media platforms.

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