• Loading stock data...
Sunday, April 21, 2024
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -

Ratings on the Rise

  • The 2020 men’s sports calendar was marked by declining ratings, and college football was no exception.
  • But during college football's Week 1, both ESPN and Fox notched milestones compared with recent years.
Photo: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY/Design: Alex Brooks

The 2020 men’s sports calendar was marked by declining ratings — and college football was no exception. But to say that ratings bounced back during this season’s Week 1 would be a major understatement. 

Excluding Bowl season, the most-viewed games in 2019 drew up to 16 million viewers, while only one game in 2020 even topped 10 million, according to SportsMediaWatch data compiled by The Athletic.

Despite this, the SEC negotiated a media deal with Disney/ESPN for $3 billion — showing confidence in college football’s popularity despite the dip. 

It looks like they were right. Whatever apathy fans felt last year has evaporated. Last week, both ESPN and Fox notched milestones compared with recent years. The high ratings suggest that deal wasn’t inflated, and it bodes well for the Big Ten and Pac-12 as they gear up to renegotiate their contracts.

Thursday’s Ohio State-Minnesota game was Fox’s most-watched Week 1 game in history, averaging 6.3 million viewers, the network announced. It also ranked in the top three for regular-season games on streaming.

On Saturday, ABC had its “best” triple-header since 2017, ESPN said. The most popular matchup, Georgia-Clemson, averaged about 8 million viewers, up 16% from 2019 and “on track” to be the second most-viewed “Kickoff Saturday” game in 15 years on any network. 

The triple-header included Oklahoma-Tulane — not exactly a marquee matchup. It definitely drew interest later in the game, however, as the unranked Green Wave made a run to beat the then-No. 2 Sooners less than one week after Hurricane Ida upended their season.

And on Sunday, the prime-time Notre Dame-FSU game on ABC averaged 7.1 million viewers, becoming the second-most-viewed “Opening Week Sunday” game since the network started keeping records in 1996.

Power 5 football “continued to dominate” ratings while other sports dipped, Octagon Senior Vice President of Global Media Rights Consulting, Daniel Cohen, told FOS in December. It looks like that sentiment is true now more than ever.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Players Accused of Sexual Misconduct Can Still Compete, Feds Say

New Title IX rules ban suspending accused athletes until a school investigation occurs.

Memphis and FedEx Strike Unique Corporate NIL Deal For $25 Million

The logistics company has a long-standing relationship with the university.

NBA Media Rights Likely Headed for Open Market Next Week

The league is reportedly letting Monday’s deadline pass without a deal.

The Questions Are Mounting for ‘Spulu’ As Lawmakers Demand Answers

A pair of high-powered Congressmen are demanding answers about the forthcoming service.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Why Ian Rapoport Lives for the NFL Draft’s Chaos


Featured Today

Everything You Need To Know About the Legal Attempts To Kill the ACC

Four lawsuits involving the conference, Clemson, and FSU could determine the future.
April 20, 2024

A Bare-Knuckle Fighter Won His Pro Debut. The Far Right Scored a Marketing Win

With Proud Boys sponsoring him, experts say extremist groups will use his success to elevate their ideologies and recruit new believers.
April 7, 2024

Women’s Basketball Finally Has a TV Deal to Match the Excitement. Now What?

A lucrative new media-rights contract could rectify problems of the past, but the future of March Madness media rights is anyone’s guess.
Mar 16, 2024; Washington, D.C., USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) cuts the net after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels for the ACC Conference Championship at Capital One Arena.
April 6, 2024

How Two College Seniors Helped DJ Burns Cash In on a Final Four Run

Two college seniors are facilitating deals for NC State’s big man.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers
Dec 27, 2023; San Diego, CA, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Kyron Hudson (10) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Louisville Cardinals during the first half at Petco Park.

Hearings Have Concluded in the Pivotal USC Athlete Employment Case. What’s Next?

The potentially landmark labor case could end the NCAA amateurism model.
April 11, 2024

‘Nothing Is Off the Table’: New AAC Commissioner Isn’t Afraid of the Controversial Ideas

Tim Pernetti told reporters he’s specifically interested in private equity—and didn’t rule out athlete employment or unionization models.
April 17, 2024

NCAA Made Empty Threats to Jim Harbaugh over Lawyer’s Twitter Posts

The attorney kept criticizing the NCAA on social media after the October warning.

Rapid Returns: How Technology Is Getting You Back to Your Seat

How Oracle’s POS technology is helping fans get back to their seats faster.
April 10, 2024

Deion Sanders: NFL Teams Manipulate Draft Positions

Coach Prime joined ‘Front Office Sports Today’ to discuss the state of college football.
April 10, 2024

Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer Retires With ACC Move Looming

She set the all-time coaching record with 1,216 wins.
April 9, 2024

John Calipari’s Kentucky Exit Is As Slow and Awkward As a Dog in a Stroller

Calipari steps away from Kentucky with the Arkansas deal still unofficial.
April 9, 2024

Simultaneous Final Fours: An Untenable Logistical Conundrum

The women’s Final Four has gotten much too big to take place at the exact same time—in a different location—as its men’s counterpart.