College Football Ratings Roundup: SEC on CBS Still No. 1; Fox, ESPN See Viewership Increases

For the seventh consecutive year the “SEC ON CBS” is the highest-rated regular season college football package on any network, averaging a 3.4/8 rating/share. Meanwhile, ESPN also saw a 4% rise in its college football ratings across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews and ESPNU and Fox posted a 12% viewership increase for its Big 12/Pac-12/ USA package.

SEC on CBS Still No. 1
SEC on CBS
In addition to CBS Sports’ national coverage of SEC football averaging a national household rating/share of 3.4/8, CBS also scored this season’s highest-rated and most-watched college football game-to-date with last Saturday’s SEC Championship (12/5), which featured Alabama beating Florida, 29-15. The SEC Championship delivered an average national household rating/share of 7.8/17 and averaged 12.76 million viewers

In addition, the second most-watched game of the season was Alabama’s primetime showdown versus LSU on November 7, which averaged 11.06 million viewers…

ESPN Networks Up 4%
ESPN-rated networks – ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS —  averaged 1,852,000 viewers for the 270 games televised in the 2015 college football regular season, a rise of 4% in viewership compared to 2014 regular season (1,776,000 viewers). Additionally, ESPN averaged 2,721,000 viewers for the 74 games the network aired, marking the fourth consecutive year viewership has increased (up from 2,660,000 in 2014 and

ABC averaged 4,979,000 viewers for 41 game-windows, the most ever carried by ABC in a single season. Additionally, heading into conference championship week, ABC Saturday Night Football was the most-watched series in all of college football, across all networks, averaging 5,340,000 viewers.

Michigan State at Ohio State on Nov. 21 was the most-watched game of the year on ESPN/ABC (11,052,000 viewers) and the most-watched 3:30 p.m. game of college football season. Overall, ESPN/ABC televised 3 of the top 5 most-watched games and six of the top 10, both across all networks.

WatchESPN had a record-setting college football regular season, streaming its five most-watched regular season college football games, ever, and nine of the top 10 – led by Ohio State at Virginia Tech (Sept 7) with 194,000 average minute impressions and Michigan State at Michigan (Oct. 17) with 167,000 average minute impressions. WatchESPN also experienced significant growth in 2015 with a per game increase of 54% in average minute impressions, 38% total unique viewers, and 53% total minutes viewed…

FOX Sports Up 12%
FOX Sports posted big ratings increases during the 2015 college football season, led by last weekend’s Big Ten Championship Game, in which Michigan State’s dramatic 16-13 win over previously undefeated Iowa clinched the Spartans a spot in the College Football Playoff. The game attracted 9.8 million viewers and a 5.7/11 household rating/share, helping college football games on FOX finish the season up +19% in rating (1.9 vs. 1.6) and up +15% in viewership (3.0 million vs. 2.6 million). Combined, college football games featuring the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Conference USA on FOX and FS1 posted an average viewership increase of +12% this season over 2014.

The 2015 Big Ten Championship Game on FOX, played Saturday, Dec. 5, out-rated the other college football conference championship games in the same time slot by wide margins, including beating the ACC Championship Game on ABC by +42% in audience (9.8 million vs. 6.9 million) and +39% in rating (5.7 vs. 4.1). The household rating for the 2015 Big Ten Championship Game is up +63% over last year’s affair (5.7 vs. 3.5), and +61% in audience (9.8 million vs. 6.1 million), a lopsided victory for Ohio State.

This season, The FOX broadcast network saw its highest-rated and most-watched regular season game ever, with Stanford’s nail-biting 38-36 win over Notre Dame on Saturday, Nov. 28, which posted a 4.3/11 with more than 7.3 million viewers. The Big 12 also continued to attract big numbers, led by Baylor at Oklahoma State on FOX Saturday, Nov. 21, which recorded a 2.6/5 and 4.3 million viewers, at the time ranking as the network’s most-watched game of the season.

FS1 opened the 2015 campaign on Thursday, Sept. 3, with the highest-rated, most-watched game in the channel’s history – Utah’s 24-17 win over Michigan in Jim Harbaugh’s debut as the Wolverines’ head coach. The game posted a 1.73 household rating with more than 2.8 million viewers…

Ratings Odds and Ends
The Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals game (8:30-11:30pm) on Thursday Night Football last night averaged a 7.40 HH rating across 56 Metered Markets+local OTA stations. The 7.40 NFL Network + OTA Metered Mkt HH rtg is the highest of 2015. Ratings are up +26% versus the comparable date/matchup last year (Arizona @ St. Louis: 5.88 HH)…

…Tuesday night’s Golden State Warriors win delivered 823,000 total viewers to NBA TV as the team once again propelled that channel to its (latest) most-viewed game of the season and its fourth most watched all time among regular season telecasts. The matchup was up 131% among total viewers (823,000) and up 137% for households (635,000) over last year’s comparable telecast. (Cynopsis Sports)