After huge audiences for games in Week 1 and Week 2, Week 3 was a disappointment with the lack of standout games on the schedule.
The most watched game of the weekend was Penn State’s afternoon victory over Auburn on CBS, which averaged 4.054 million viewers. The same game played on ABC’s prime time last year and averaged 7.606 million viewers. Additionally, CBS aired Alabama-Florida at 3:30 pm a year ago, and that game averaged 7.863 million viewers.
In its Big Noon window, Fox aired Oklahoma-Nebraska, which averaged 3.414 million viewers. Last year, the same game in that Fox window averaged 4.210 million viewers.
Compared to that Auburn-Penn State broadcast a year ago, ABC’s prime time window has been hit. This year, Michigan State-Washington was the game in that window, and it averaged just 2.791 million viewers. And not only did ABC’s primetime window drop from last year, it didn’t even win the weekday window — Mississippi State-LSU started at 6 p.m. on ESPN and averaged 3.055 million viewers, while the primetime broadcast Fox’s Toledo-Ohio State averaged 3.048 million viewers. Fox did not have a primetime game last season, while ESPN broadcast South Carolina-Georgia to 2.548 million viewers. That same Georgia-South Carolina game aired at noon this year on ESPN, drawing 3.001 million viewers.
ESPN drew a strong audience for a later game in Week 3, with Miami-Texas A&M starting at 9pm on ESPNEWS before switching to ESPN. The ESPN broadcast began at 9:33 pm and averaged 3.4 billion viewers, more than any ESPN game in Week 3 of last season.
Despite the team’s poor start to the season, Notre Dame’s ratings increased on NBC. 2.905 million watched Fighting Irish win over Cal in Week 3, up from 2.584 million for the game against Purdue last season.
ESPN also drew strong viewership for a game during the week, with Florida State-Louisville on Friday averaging 2.753 million viewers. UCF-Louisville on Friday of last year averaged 1.881 million on ESPN.
Another slightly funny thing stood out to me when looking at the four games that aired on FS1. The most watched game began at 11:15 pm, with Arizona’s victory over North Dakota averaging 335,000 spectators. It was the network’s only Pac-12 broadcast of the day. Pay Pac-12 for the night games!
[Data via ShowBuzz Daily, Sports Media Watch]