GREEN BAY, WI – SEPTEMBER 03: Rafael Gaglianone #27 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after making a 47-yard field goal during the fourth quarter to give the Wisconsin Badgers a 16-14 lead against the LSU Tigers at Lambeau Field on September 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

A very strong schedule for the opening weekend of college football provided the networks of ESPN with the top four overnight ratings on Saturday. USC-Alabama and LSU-Wisconsin both scored for ABC. Both games received a 4.9 rating which makes them tied for the second best overnight rating for an opening Saturday game on the network. The only game that is higher is Notre Dame-Georgia Tech which averaged a 5.8 overnight in 2006.

In addition, Houston-Oklahoma at noon ET on ABC received a 4.0 overnight rating while Clemson-Auburn in the ESPN primetime window had a 2.8 overnight which was the Worldwide Leader’s best rating of the day.

And Clemson-Auburn’s number is an 87% increase over last seseason’s Arizona State-Texas A&M game on ESPN which aired at 7 p.m. ET. Last night’s Clemson-Auburn aired later at 9 p.m.

Locally, Houston saw 12.8 overnight for the Houston-Oklahoma game. For the USC-Alabama game, Los Angeles scored a 6.9 overnight. Both numbers are local records for an opening weekend on an ESPN network.

Online, LSU-Wisconsin became ESPN’s most streamed opening Saturday game and third-best overall for a regular season college football contest. With all of the college football action plus the U.S. Open, ESPN saw a huge day with 249.1 million minutes watched and 2.7 million unique visitors.

So by having such a strong opening weekend slate of games, fans not only flocked to their TV’s and mobile devices to watch, ESPN saw some very good numbers for the games. It’s a model for future opening weekends and a message to schools to not schedule cupcakes.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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