The Deion Sanders wave continues to lift all boats in college football—particularly those of TV networks.
Despite the lopsided score, ABC’s telecast of Colorado’s 42-6 loss to Oregon on Saturday averaged 10.03 million viewers, according to Sports Media Watch.
That made it the largest Nielsen-measured college football audience of the season.
According to ABC, the telecast peaked at 12.6 million viewers and marked the broadcast network’s second-best regular season game in the last five years.
But NBC Sports uses different measurement metrics than ABC. According to the Peacock network, its telecast of Ohio State’s 17-14 win over Notre Dame was the most-watched of the season.
The game averaged 10.5 million viewers, according to NBC, peaking at 14.2 million viewers.
NBC said it was the most-watched regular season on any network since 2018, excluding the Labor Day holiday weekend. And most-watched on the network since the “Game of the Century” between Notre Dame and Florida State in 1993.
No matter how you slice it, they were the two most-watched games of the season. Coach Prime’s Buffaloes have appeared in four of the Top 7 most-watched games this season, noted Sports Media Watch. Last year, their highest-rated game ranked 162nd.
The interest around Sanders and his resurgent program draws casual viewers who may not have previously consumed many college football broadcasts.
Black TV households have also shown a surge of interest in Sanders’ Colorado, dubbed “Black America’s Team.”
Excluding rivalry week, Flora Kelly, ESPN’s vice president of research, tweeted that Saturday marked the most-watched regular season Saturday in college football history. She estimated that nearly 12 billion minutes were consumed across all rated networks.
Through Week 4, total college football viewing was up 14% across all networks, added Michael Mulvihill, president of Insights and Analytics for Fox Sports.
Over 20 million people watched college football on primetime on Saturday night, Mulvihill tweeted.
“A rare instance of more people watching football on Saturday night than Sunday night,” he wrote.
It will be interesting to see if Colorado’s blowout loss to Oregon will pop the program’s media ballon before arguably the team’s biggest game against USC on Saturday.
Despite the one-sided score, Kelly said viewers stayed with Colorado vs. Oregon on Saturday, with the audience holding above 7.6 million during the telecast’s final quarter-hour between 6:45 pm and 7 pm.
Fox Sports will televise this Saturday’s Buffaloes vs. Trojans in its signature noon window. The network is sending its “Big Noon Kickoff” pregame show and Skip Bayless’ “Undisputed Live” on location to Boulder for the matchup.