Nov 25, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer talks on the sideline set of Fox Big Noon Kickoff prior to the NCAA football game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Credit: The Columbus Dispatch

With the 2023 college football regular season virtually wrapped, ABC, CBS, and Fox can all claim viewership superlatives for this season.

Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff package was again the most-watched window of the season. Big Noon averaged 6.739 million viewers this season, the best season ever for the package.

Right behind was the SEC on CBS, averaging 6.73 million viewers. NBC’s Notre Dame package of six games finished third with 4.27 million, followed by ABC’s Saturday night package with 4.11 million viewers. The Big Ten’s two new packages on CBS and NBC were next with 3.55 million and 2.41 million viewers, respectively.

The 13 Big Ten games aired by Fox, both in and out of the Big Noon window, averaged 6.22 million viewers.

On a network-by-network basis, packages aside, CBS led the way, averaging 5.07 million viewers over 26 games. Fox came in second with 4.03 million viewers over 44 games, followed by ABC with 3.95 million viewers across 47 games. NBC ranked fourth among the four broadcast networks, averaging 2.80 million viewers for 22 games.

Data for NBC is based solely on Nielsen data and not the Total Audience Delivery metric used by NBC.

ESPN led the way on cable with 1.96 million viewers over 76 games, perhaps surprisingly followed by the Big Ten Network with 605,000 over 30 games. FS1 averaged 587,000 across 58 games, and ESPN2’s 60 games averaged 417,000.

In its inaugural season airing ACC games, The CW averaged 492,000 viewers over 13 games.

ABC is claiming this season’s “total minutes watched” crown. A release earlier this week by ESPN said that ABC had “more total minutes watched than any other individual network” and that “24% of the sport’s viewers” watched on ABC. Other networks did not discuss their total minutes watched.

That release also touts impressive marks set by ESPN+. ESPN said this season was the most-watched season ever on ESPN+, up 3% in unique viewers and 8% in total minutes watched compared to 2022. This season also saw ESPN+ deliver three of its four most-watched games ever (UT Martin at Georgia, Austin Peay at Tennessee, SMU at Oklahoma).

Next year, the college football world will look so different. The ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, and SEC will all be expanding, while the Pac-12 has been reduced to a husk of itself. ESPN will air the full slate of SEC games, while the Big Ten’s deal with CBS will truly begin following the SEC’s departure.

[Sports Media Watch]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.