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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Red River Rivalry Spurs ESPN To Another Weekly Viewership Victory

  • Saturday’s Oklahoma-Texas game averaged 8.1 million viewers between ABC and ESPN2.
  • ESPN has now had college football’s most-watched game of the week for all but one week this season.
Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel carries the ball during the Red River Rivalry college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the University of Texas Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023.
Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman / USA TODAY NETWORK

A thrilling 34-30 win for Oklahoma in its annual rivalry game with Texas helped spark ESPN to college football’s most-watched game again.

Saturday’s Red River Rivalry averaged 8.1 million viewers between ABC and ESPN2’s “Field Pass with Pat McAfee” alternative telecast — the second-most-watched Oklahoma-Texas game in a full national window on record (behind only 2009) and a 135% increase from 2022’s contest when the Longhorns drubbed the Sooners 49-0. 

ESPN has now had college football’s most-watched game of the week for all but one week this season. It also had the third-most-watched game of the week with the primetime Louisville-Notre Dame contest.

Coming in second place for Week 6 was CBS’ presentation of Alabama’s 26-20 victory over Texas A&M, which registered 7.2 million average viewers in the late afternoon window. It was a 71% increase over the comparable game (Auburn-Georgia) from 2022.

Fox checked in with 4.5 million average viewers for Ohio State’s easy 37-17 win over Maryland, a 12% increase from the same window in Week 6 2022. Even so, “Big Noon Saturday” remains the most-watched college football window on any network, averaging 5.6 million viewers through six weeks. 

Fox’s pregame show, “Big Noon Kickoff” is still trying to catch ESPN’s “College GameDay”: the former averaged 1.4 million viewers, while the latter averaged 2.3 million this week. “GameDay” handily defeated “Kickoff” when the two went head-to-head from Boulder, Colorado in September.

Deion Sanders’ Colorado — a major ratings driver to start the season — was hidden away on Pac-12 Network in Week 6.

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