Monday night’s Ohio State – Virginia Tech college football matchup drew incredible numbers for ESPN. The game pulled in a 6.6 overnight rating, the best for any opening weekend college football game on any network since 2010’s Boise State – Virginia Tech matchup (a 6.7, also on ESPN), and a 144 per cent boost over last Labor Day’s Miami – Louisville game (which drew a 2.7 overnight). It’s the second-most watched opening weekend game on ESPN of all time (behind that 2010 Boise State – Virginia Tech game) and the third-most on ESPN and ABC (also behind the 7.2 Miami – Florida State drew on ABC in 2005).

The game, which finished in a relatively lopsided 42-24 Ohio State win, was likely helped by a close first half, which saw Virginia Tech go on a 17-0 run in the second quarter and lead 17-14 at the break. However, there were other factors at play as well; Ohio State’s the defending national champion and a unanimous #1, and there was so much intrigue heading into this thanks to Urban Meyer’s refusal to name a starting quarterback between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones (Jones eventually wound up starting), Braxton Miller shifting from quarterback to wide receiver (where he made several spectacular plays), and the Hokies being seen as one of the toughest tests on the Buckeyes’ schedule. Add it up, and it made for spectacular ratings, especially in Ohio; Columbus led the way in the top local markets with a record 43.4 overnight rating, while Cleveland and Dayton were second and third with 28.7 and 28.4. Southern markets tuned in too; Birmingham was fourth with an 19.3, while Richmond was fifth with a 16.3.

It’s also worth noting just how well this game did on streaming. It attracted an average minute audience of 194,000 users and a total of 708,000 unique viewers on WatchESPN, with 41,900,000 minutes viewed overall. That breaks the previous regular-season records last year’s Iron Bowl by over 40 per cent in each category. So, Bristol will be very happy with these results, not just from TV but also from streaming. It was a success for ESPN on multiple fronts.

[TV By The Numbers]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.

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