Notre Dame’s 47-40 double overtime win over Clemson on Saturday night drew the largest audience for a college football game this season.
Per ShowBuzz Daily, NBC’s broadcast of the game drew a stunning 10.067 million viewers, making it the first college football game of this season to top ten million viewers. The previous high came three weeks ago for Alabama-Georgia on CBS, which drew 9.611 million viewers.
This also marks the most-watched non-bowl Notre Dame game since the Labor Day weekend opener vs Texas in 2016 (10.95 million viewers on ABC), and the most-watched Notre Dame game on NBC since *that* USC game back in 2005 (10.1 million viewers), per Sports Media Watch.
Additionally, the only non-NFL sporting event to draw more viewers since the live sports shutdown back in March was Game 6 of the World Series.
Of note: this audience does *not* include the half hour chunk in the second quarter when the game shifted to USA Network, with NBC cutting away to the speeches by President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris. That half hour window drew 4.770 million viewers on NBC per ShowBuzz Daily, with the USA broadcast of the game drawing 2.157 million viewers.
Outside of NBC’s top five clash and whatever we’re calling The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party these days (Florida-Georgia drew 6.344 million viewers on CBS), the somewhat weak college football slate was a disappointment for the networks. Fox’s ballyhooed noon Eastern kickoff between Arizona State and USC drew 2.331 million viewers, ranking second in the noon window to West Virginia-Texas on ABC (2.75 million viewers). No other game on Saturday topped two million viewers.
Notably, audiences for college football have ticked up over the last three weeks with the return of the Big Ten. Prior to the conference’s return, just two games all year (Alabama-Georgia and Georgia-Tennessee the week before) topped five million viewers. Since the conference’s return, the Big Ten alone has had three games exceed five million viewers (Nebraska-Ohio State, Michigan-Minnesota, and Ohio State-Penn State) while the rest of college football has added another two (Clemson-Notre Dame and Florida-Georgia, also on Saturday).