Ratings Roundup: Viewership Records for NFL and College Football Across All Networks and Platforms

Ratings Roundup is a rundown of recent rating news and is derived from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, the Ohio State-Notre Dame matchup pulls highest viewership in regular season college football since 1993; Braves viewership on Bally highest since 2019 and more.

USC-Colorado Peaks at Over 10 Million Viewers on FOX

  • 7,241,000 viewers watched USC’s victory over Colorado in BIG NOON SATURDAY’s Game of the Week on FOX
  • USC – Colorado
    • Peaked at 10,341,000 viewers from 3:30 to 3:45 PM ET on FOX
    • Matchup was the most-watched telecast of the day on any network
    • Up +16% over 2022’s BIG NOON SATURDAY average on FOX (6,232,000)
  • BIG NOON KICKOFF: From 11:00 AM ET, posted 1,548,000 viewers in Week 5 – up +19% over BIG NOON KICKOFF’s Week 5 showing in 2022 (1,306,000)
  • BIG NOON SATURDAY: Through Week 5, FOX’s noon window remains the most-watched game in college football, averaging 5,773,000 viewers on FOX

ESPN College Football Week 5 Viewership: ESPN Platforms Off to Best Five-Week Start Since 2016, College GameDay Continues Saturday Viewership Streak

  • Notre Dame v. Duke: 5.5M viewers
    • ABC’s best Saturday Night Football presentation of 2023
  • LSU v. Ole Miss: 3.7M viewers
  • Alabama v. Mississippi State: 3.4M viewers
  • Kansas State v. UT Austin: 2.4M viewers
  • ESPN College GameDay: 1,683,000 viewers
    • Final hour: 2.2M viewers
    • College Football’s #1 pregame show

Braves Viewership on Bally Sports Best Since 2019

Bally Sports South and Bally Sports Southeast concluded its 2023 Atlanta Braves season coverage with its highest household rating since 2019 and experienced a year-over-year increase in viewership metrics across all platforms.

“This has been a record-breaking season for the Atlanta Braves on the field, and with that success, we saw record numbers of fans watching their team on the Bally Sports regional networks and Bally Sports app,” says Jeff Genthner, Senior Vice President, General Manager.

The regional sports networks televised 146 Braves games this season with 108 of those telecasts ranking No. 1 across all networks in the Atlanta DMA during their time slots. Of the remaining 38 games, 28 ranked #2 in Atlanta and 10 ranked #3 (three rain delays and four games after the team won the N.L. East division) in their respective time slot.

Household ratings for 2023 Braves telecasts increased 17-percent year-over-year for an average of 3.44 (over 92,000 impressions) in the Atlanta DMA. The ratings average was the second highest over the last 10 years behind a 3.62 household rating in the 2019 season.

Bally Sports’ Braves telecasts tallied well over 13 million linear impressions this season in Atlanta. The Braves LIVE pregame and postgame shows also experienced significant viewership increase with pregame show household ratings up 19% and postgame show ratings up 28% year-over-year. On the Bally Sports app, TV everywhere viewers logged over 300 million minutes of streamed games in 2023.

The networks’ aggregated social media platforms featuring Braves coverage, including @BravesOnBally on X, @BallySportsSO accounts on X, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Tik Tok, have accounted for overall audience growth of over 150,000 net new followers, while amassing over 800 million impressions and 225 million video views. The @BravesOnBally X account has been responsible for 25% of the network’s total impressions this calendar year.

Bally Sports showcased the Braves’ record-breaking season that resulted in a sixth consecutive N.L. East championship and the best record in the MLB at 104-58. In addition to the team’s success on the field, the networks gave viewers a lot to talk about throughout the season with their own additions to the game telecasts.

The networks introduced new play-by-play voice Brandon Gaudin, welcomed back Hall of Famer Tom Glavine as an analyst and added Hall of Famer John Smoltz as an analyst for two series. However, the two most talked about telecasts were the Braves vs. Mets games with Hall of Famers Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones and John Smoltz in the booth alongside lead analyst Jeff Francoeur.

Afternoon FS1 Daily Studio Shows Deliver Record-Setting September

  • The Herd
    • Tied show’s most-watched month ever, up +39% year-over-year
    • 10th consecutive month of year-over-year viewership growth
  • First Things First
    • Most-watched month ever, up +113% year-over-year
    • Six of show’s top 10 most-watched telecasts ever aired in Sept. ’23
    • 13th consecutive month of double-digit year-over-year growth
  • Speak
    • Most-watched September ever, up +77% year-over-year
    • Most-watched month since Jan. ’20
    • 11th consecutive month of year-over-year growth

ESPN’s NFL Week 4: Seahawks-Giants on Monday Night Football Draws More than 16.6 Million Viewers; Follows Multiple Falcons-Jaguars’ Record-Setting Presentations on ESPN+ and Disney+

ESPN featured multiple game presentations during NFL’s Week 4, with Monday Night Football (8:15 p.m. ET, Oct. 2) delivering more than 16.6 million viewers (ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and NFL+) for Seahawks-Giants following Falcons-Jaguars (9:30 a.m., Oct. 1) — from Wembley Stadium Sunday in London — driving ESPN+ and Disney+ to new audience records for each platform, respectively.

Monday Night Football Continues Hot Start
With an audience of 16,618,000 viewers, Monday Night Football was up 32% from last season’s MNF Week 4 game (Rams-49ers) and is the best MNF week 4 game in 14 years (2009). The audience peaked at 19.7 million viewers late in the first half (9:30 – 9:45 p.m. ET). Overall, MNF was the top telecast of the night across broadcast and cable.

Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli (ESPN2) delivered 1.3 million viewers in their second episode this season.

A Record-Setting Sunday for Disney Streaming
The Falcons-Jaguars traditional game presentation was the most-viewed event ever on ESPN+, and the Toy Story Funday Football alternate presentation delivered the biggest live event to date on Disney+ (based on peak concurrency). ESPN+ also carried Toy Story Funday Football.

The Pat McAfee Show Starts Strong with 242 Million Total Views Across All Platforms During First Month of ESPN Launch

The Pat McAfee Show generated 242 million total views during its first four weeks on ESPN platforms averaging 44.5 minutes watched per show across all platforms. Across YouTube, social channels and the ESPN App, the show totaled 213 million cumulative views, with 82% of that audience falling between the 18-44 demographic.

Through the first four weeks on ESPN platforms, the show’s total reach averaged 1.4 million per show across linear and YouTube highlighted by Friday, Sept. 15’s episode live from Colorado with a total reach of 1.9 million – the highest of the month. The Pat McAfee Show also garnered five million audio downloads, making it ESPN’s most-downloaded show of the month.

“To be rather transparent, I’m not sure any of us had any certainty of how this particular report was gonna be when this all started a month ago,” says Pat McAfee. “We had hopes that a massive new audience provided by ESPN would give our show a chance and ESPN had hopes of us helping with the transition into the new multi platform generation of daily sports entertainment. I’m proud of my guys for their work and very thankful for ESPN’s belief in us because I do believe these numbers are telling us all that we’re off to a rather good start. We appreciate everything and everybody. We’re pumped about the continued possibilities on ESPN’s phenomenal platform. Cheers.”

Led by host McAfee, the show launched on ESPN platforms on Sept. 7, joining ESPN’s established personality-packed weekday lineup of Get Up (8 a.m.) and First Take (10 a.m.).

“Pat and his team have established a strong, loyal following and we’re happy to see these fans embrace the show on our platforms while also expanding ESPN’s overall reach,” says Mike Foss, senior vice president of studio and digital production, ESPN. “The Pat McAfee show has been an incredible addition to our strong weekday lineup and we’re looking forward to seeing how fans continue to tune in across our multiple viewing platforms.”

ESPN’s licensing of The Pat McAfee Show is an expansion of McAfee’s current multiplatform role as a college football analyst on ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot and as a host of alternate presentations of ESPN college football telecasts.

In addition to McAfee himself, The Pat McAfee Show features former NFL linebacker and co-host A.J. Hawk, Evan Fox, Zito Perez, Connor Campbell, Ty Schmit, Tone Digs, Frank Maraldo, Phil Mains, Casey Tok, Matt Brahn, Michael Girdy, AQ Shipley, Bailey McComas, Mitt McMahon, Coach Chuck Pagano and Darius Butler, among others. The show also has a robust slate of weekly recurring guests, including NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers (Tuesdays), former NFL defensive end J.J. Watt (Wednesdays) and Alabama football head coach Nick Saban (Thursdays).

The show is simulcast from noon – 2 p.m. ET on ESPN, ESPN on YouTube and ESPN+, with the final 2-3 p.m. hour airing on ESPN+ and The Pat McAfee Show channel on YouTube presented by ESPN.

Chiefs-Jets Thriller on NBC and Peacock is Most-Watched Sunday Show Since Super Bowl LVII, Averaging 27 Million Viewers

The Kansas City Chiefs’ down-to-the-wire 23-20 victory over the New York Jets last night on NBC and Peacock averaged approximately 27.0 million viewers – ranking as the most-watched Sunday show since Super Bowl LVII on FOX in February.

Based on preliminary data across NBC, Peacock, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital platforms, the game’s Total Audience Delivery (TAD) average of 27.0 million viewers is up 22% from last year’s Week 4 game (22.2 million as Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs faced Tom Brady and the Buccaneers).

The Average Minute Audience (AMA) for last night’s live stream via Peacock, NBC Sports Digital platforms, and NFL Digital platforms, was 1.85 million viewers – marking NBC Sports’ largest streaming audience ever for a regular-season Sunday NFL game, and up 42% from last year’s Week 4 game.

The game drew added national attention due to the attendance of pop star Taylor Swift. The “Taylor Made for Sunday Night” SNF game promo was viewed approximately eight million times.

Additional Chiefs-Jets viewership notes:

  • Viewership peaked at an estimated 29.4 million viewers between 9:30-9:45 p.m. ET, as the Jets pulled to within eight points of the Chiefs in the second quarter.
  • With Chiefs-Jets and the Sept. 7 NFL Kickoff Game (27.5 million for Lions-Chiefs), NBC Sports has presented the two most-watched NFL games this season.
  • Based on Nielsen Fast National figures (not including Out of Home metrics), viewership among teen girls (age 12-17) spiked 53% from the season-to-date average of the first three weeks of SNF, while the audience among Women aged 18-24 was up 24%, and Women 35+ increased 34%. The collective growth resulted in an approximate viewership increase of more than two million female viewers.
  • Last night’s game (8:23 p.m.-11:17 p.m. ET) registered a national TV household rating of 12.9/35 – up 15% from last year’s Week 4 matchup (11.2/28).
  • Both Kansas City (83 share) and New York (38 share) set records for share (percentage of homes with televisions in use tuned into the game) for respective Chiefs and Jets games on NBC Sunday Night Football (since the package debuted in 2006).

TOP METERED MARKETS FOR CHIEFS-JETS (based on 44 markets available):

1. Kansas City 47.8/83
2. St. Louis 18.7/45
3. Denver 16.3/46
4. Minneapolis 16.2/42
5. Las Vegas 15.6/45
6. Indianapolis 15.0/40
7. Norfolk 14.9/38
8. Milwaukee 14.8/34
T9. New York 14.7/38
T9. Philadelphia 14.7/36

TNF on Prime Serves Up Third-Straight Double-Digit Increase

Thursday Night Football on Prime Video’s strong start to the 2023 season continued last night as Lions-Packers generated a +15% viewership increase over last season’s comparable game, marking the third-straight week that TNF on Prime has delivered a double-digit gain versus the previous year.

In addition, the TNF Tonight pregame show registered its best viewership ever on Prime Video, topping the previous high set on September 14, 2023 and continuing its own strong run.

Below find viewership highlights among total viewers and key demos from last night’s presentation of Lions vs. Packers from Lambeau Field, as well as several season-to-date figures and trends for TNF.

  • According to Nielsen National TV Ratings (panel only), TNF on Prime Video averaged 13.48M million viewers on Thursday night, an increase of +15% over last year’s comparable TNF game (11.7M for Dolphins vs Bengals, 9/29/22). This marks the third straight week of double-digit viewership growth vs. last year for TNF on Prime Video.
  • Peak viewership for Lions-Packers on Prime Video was 15.29M (9:15PM EST).
  • TNF once again won the night among total viewers across all broadcast and cable programming, outdrawing the No. 2 program on linear by 209%.
    • Among viewers in the coveted P18-34 demographic, Lions-Packers on Prime averaged 2.81M, outperforming all programming on Thursday (+624% over the No. 2 program) and setting a high for the week beginning Monday, September 25.
    • Similarly, among viewers P18-49, TNF on Prime averaged 6.44M, outperformed all programming on Thursday (+684% over the No. 2 program) and setting a high for the week beginning Monday, September 25.
  • Through three games, Thursday Night Football is averaging 14.14M among total viewers, an increase of +19% vs. last season’s three-game average on Prime Video (11.87M) and 67% vs. 2021 (8.49M).
    • TNF’s 2023 three-game average is up +48% in total viewers over last year’s full-season average (14.14M vs. 9.58M).
  • TNF Tonight, TNF on Prime Video’s pregame show that kicks off each week at 7PM EST, averaged 1.84M viewers on Thursday.  Thursday’s show set a new all-time mark as Prime Video’s most-watched TNF Tonight ever among total viewers, posting a +64% increase over last year’s P2+ full-season average (vs. 1.12M).
    • TNF Tonight averaged 375K in the P18-34 demo on Thursday, up +64% over last year’s full-season P18-34 average (vs. 229K).
    • TNF Tonight averaged 848K in the P18-49 demo on Thursday, up +64% over last year’s full-season P18-49 average (vs. 519K).
  • Through three weeks, TNF on Prime’s game coverage continues to welcome younger viewership when compared to linear NFL windows.
    • Season-to-date the 2023 median age of the TNF on Prime audience is 47, which is 7 years younger than the NFL average on linear networks (54).
    • Season-to-date, TNF on Prime’s P18-34 average is 3.12M, up +25% vs. the P18-34 average for the NFL on linear networks (2.50M)
    • Season-to-date, TNF on Prime’s P18-49 average is 6.95M, up +12% vs. the P18-49 average for the NFL on linear networks (6.21M).
  • According to Nielsen’s custom Integrated Live Streaming Report,* Prime Video averaged 14.95 million viewers (AMA) across all media platforms during the Lions-Packers game.  Through three games, TNF on Prime is averaging 15.68M viewers within this metric. Please note that Nielsen’s custom Integrated Live Streaming Report is currently under review by the Media Rating Council and is not presently accredited.

Telemundo Wins the Night With U.S. Open Cup Final as #1 Spanish-Language Network in Primetime

Wednesday night’s 2023 U.S. Open Cup Final propels Telemundo to top the night as the #1 Spanish-language network among A18-49, A18-34 and P2+ in primetime. Despite the absence of Lionel Messi, the Inter Miami CF vs. Houston Dynamo FC match posted a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 1.2 million viewers across Telemundo, Universo and Peacock.

Houston Dynamo Héctor Herrera won his first title in the United States against Inter Miami CF ending in a 2-1. The historic final ranked #1 regardless of language in the time slot in Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Orlando, and Philadelphia. In Tampa and Boston, the match ranked #1 in Spanish-language television among A18-49.

ESPN College Football Week 4 Viewership: Buffs & Ducks Soar Above 10 Million Mark, College GameDay Collects 3.1 Million Viewers in Final Hour

  • Oregon v. CU Boulder: 10.4M viewers
    • ESPN/ABC’s most watched game of 2023
    • Most-viewed Pac-12 intra-conference game since 2006
    • ABC’s 2nd best regular season game (excl. conf champs) in 5 years
    • Peak: 12.6M viewers
  • ESPN College GameDay: 2,244,000 viewers
    • Up 16% from 2022’s Week 4
    • Final hour: 3.1M viewers
  • FSU v. Clemson: 6.9M viewers
    • ABC’s 2nd best regular season early afternoon game since 2016
  • UT Austin v. Baylor: 2.7M viewers
  • Arkansas v. LSU: 2.4M viewers
  • Auburn v. Texas A&M: 2.2M viewers

First Take Kicks Off Football Season with 14th Consecutive Month of Year-Over-Year Viewership Growth & Most-Watched September Ever 

ESPN’s signature morning debate show First Take, featuring Stephen A. Smith and host Molly Qerim, continued its streak of monthly viewership growth in September, marking 14 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.

First Take kicked off NFL season with its most-watched September ever, averaging 505,000 viewers, an increase of 18 percent from 2022.

September Content Highlights

  • Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe Made Weekly Guest Debut:
    • The Sept. 4-5th episodes combined were up 24 percent vs. the comparable shows in 2022, averaging 583,000 viewers.
  • Fans Turned to First Take for NFL Week 1 Reaction:
    • The Sept. 11-12th episodes combined were up 22 percent year over year, averaging 672,000 viewers.
  • First Take on the Road Live from Boulder, Colo:
    • Ahead of Colorado’s game against Colorado State, First Take’s Friday, Sept. 15, roadshow was up 66 percent from the comparable show in 2022, averaging 611,000 viewers.

In addition, First Take continued to excel across platforms, furthering its audience with triple digital percentage growth and key milestones across social and digital platforms from Sept. 1-25 as well.

Social & Digital Content Highlights

  • First Take on YouTube:
    • First Take’s total YouTube views were up 129 percent from the same timeframe in 2022, with 32 million views from Sept. 1-25.
  • First Take social accounts:
    • Engagements across First Take social accounts were up 104 percent from the same timeframe in 2022.
      First Take also had its highest follower gains across its Instagram and Facebook accounts in four years.
AMERICA’S GAME OF THE WEEK Swiftly Scores the Most-Watched Telecast of the Week on Any Network
  • 24.3M viewers tuned in making it the most-watched telecast of the week on any network

Ohio State-Notre Dame Thriller is NBC’s Most Watched Regular Season College Football Game Since 1993 “Game of the Century”

NBC Sports drew its largest regular-season college football audience in 30 years for No. 6 Ohio State’s down-to-the-wire 17-14 win over No. 9 Notre Dame, with a touchdown in the closing seconds on Saturday night.

The Buckeyes’ three-point victory over the Fighting Irish averaged 10.5 million viewers across NBC, Peacock and NBC Sports Digital, ranking as NBC Sports’ second-most watched regular season college football game of all-time, behind only then-No. 2 Notre Dame’s “Game of the Century” 31-24 defeat of No. 1 Florida State on Nov. 13, 1993 (22 million viewers).

Additional viewership highlights from Ohio State-Notre Dame:

  • The Average Minute Audience (AMA) of 605,000 viewers for Saturday night’s live stream via Peacock and NBC Sports Digital platforms marks NBC Sports’ most-streamed college football simulcast.
  • Viewership for Ohio State-Notre Dame peaked at 14 million from 10:30-10:45 p.m. ET, as the Buckeyes drove for the game-winning score (a one-yard run with one second remaining).
  • Excluding the Labor Day holiday weekend, Saturday night’s matchup is the most-watched primetime regular-season college football game on any network since 2018.
  • Ohio State-Notre Dame (7:37 p.m.-11 p.m. ET) registered a national NBC-TV household rating of 5.1/16.

Viewership figures are based upon live + same day data from Nielsen and Adobe Analytics.

TOP METERED MARKETS FOR OHIO STATE-NOTRE DAME (based on 44 markets available):

1. Columbus, OH 29.9/65
2. Cleveland 21.1/54
3. Cincinnati 12.8/33
4. Indianapolis 11.6/33
5. Detroit 11.0/32
6. Chicago 7.0/24
7. West Palm Beach 6.6/19
8. Tampa 6.2/19
T9. Nashville 6.1/18
T9. Norfolk 6.1/17

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