It can be very enjoyable to make fun of ESPN. Why? Because while the Worldwide Leader pumps out some genuinely great content (See: 30 for 30 series), it also provides us with things like Skip Bayless. However, ESPN is beginning 2015 like a runaway freight train.
In the first week of the new year, ESPN enjoyed the best week of its existence. Take a step back and let that soak in. Considering ESPN has been around since 1979, that’s a pretty important deal. According to Nielsen, ESPN had an average of 4,119,000 viewers per day from Dec. 29, 2014-Jan. 4, 2015. The network also scored its single biggest day ever on New Year’s Day with an average of 11.68 million viewers.
After the pair of college football playoff games featuring the Ohio State Buckeyes and Alabama Crimson Tide, and the Florida State Seminoles and Oregon Ducks, ESPN added the top two programs in cable television history. Including the Wild Card game on Saturday between the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals, ESPN now has the 19 most-viewed cable programs of all-time. Interestingly enough, all of them are either pro or college football games.
For comparison’s sake, NBC Sports Network’s biggest ever draw came with live Olympic ski jump coverage last winter at 5.5 million viewers. Fox Sports 1’s biggest audience during the MLB Postseason reached 5.7 million. The college football playoff contests on ESPN pulled in over 28 million viewers each.