The stakes were high on Saturday when the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes hosted the No. 8 Penn State Nittany Lions. And not just for the football teams taking the field. Fox’s Big Noon has been their major focus this season. Built around their biggest game of the day and the appropriately titled Big Noon Kickoff, it’s their attempt to make waves in the pregame show world against College GameDay and let ESPN know they’re a valid competitor.
Fox’s noon games have scored a few viewership wins this season and they certainly did again this past Saturday. Per Fox, Ohio State’s 28-17 win over Penn State was the top-rated event of the day as well as their highest-rated college football game this season.
— FOX Sports PR (@FOXSportsPR) November 24, 2019
The game was watched by roughly 8.064 million viewers and drew a 6.3 rating overall, the second-best number overall for the 2019 season so far. To put that in perspective, the SEC showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 LSU on CBS, which was the highest-rated game of the year (and highest-rated since 2011) averaged a 9.7 rating. Notre Dame-Georgia back in September garnered a 5.4 rating. Meanwhile, the previous weekend’s highest-rated game was Georgia vs. Auburn on CBS, which drew a 4.0 rating.
To also put in perspective against previous games in the Big Noon timeslot, last week’s Michigan-Michigan State rivalry game drew a 2.5 rating while October 26’s Ohio State-Wisconsin showdown garnered a 4.5 rating.
To no one’s surprise, Columbus was the highest-rated local market with a 44.9 rating while Cleveland followed with a 24.4 rating. It also doesn’t hurt to have Urban Meyer as the face of Big Noon Kickoff. OSU’s former coach is still beloved in Columbus despite the controversy that hung over his final season on the sidelines there. Fox was wise to put Ohio State in this timeslot five times already this season, and they’re not done yet.
Next week, Ohio State and Michigan will renew their yearly hatefest in the Big Noon spot and while it might not be the winner-take-all battle everyone hoped it would be before the season, the stakes are still extremely high enough to warrant a similar rating for Fox. Not only is it Ohio State vs. Michigan but Ohio State is playing for a spot in the College Football Playoff while the Wolverines are still a top ten team who would love nothing more than to spoil the Buckeyes’ title hopes.
All the more reason to keep an eye on the head-to-head battle between Fox and ESPN for college football Saturday supremacy.