ESPN College Football Week 1: Most-Watched Opening Weekend Game Ever on ESPN/ABC and Top Two Most-Watched Games of the Weekend
· No. 1 Ohio State at Virginia Tech: Best opening weekend game ever on ESPN/ABC, third best regular-season game ever on ESPN and most-streamed regular-season college football game ever on WatchESPN
· No. 20 Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Alabama: Saturday's most-watched game, up 34% from 2014's ABC Saturday Night Football opener
· North Carolina vs. South Carolina: Opening night's most-watched game
· Viewership soars for Friday night's doubleheader, games on ESPN, collectively across all networks and on WatchESPN
ESPN began the 2015 college football season by televising the most-watched opening weekend college football game ever on ESPN or ABC when 10,585,000 viewers tuned into No. 1 Ohio State at Virginia Tech (Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. ET), surpassing Boise State vs. Virginia Tech (9,888,000 viewers) on Sept. 6, 2010, both on ESPN. The top five most-viewed opening weekend games:
Rank Viewership Date Network Game
1. 10,585,000 Monday, Sept. 7, 2015 ESPN No. 1 Ohio State at Virginia Tech
2. 9,888,000 Monday, Sept. 6, 2010 ESPN Boise State vs. Virginia Tech
3. 9,648,000 Monday, Sept. 5, 2005 ABC Miami at Florida State
4. 9,142,000 Monday, Aug. 31, 1998 ABC Texas A&M vs. Florida State
5. 9,120,000 Monday, Sept. 4, 2006 ESPN Florida State at Miami
Records date back to 1990 for ESPN, 1996 for ABC
The audience for the much anticipated Labor Day night matchup was the third most-viewed regular-season college football game ever on ESPN:
Rank Viewership Date Game
1. 13,529,000 November, 29, 2014 Auburn at Alabama
2. 10,586,000 Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012 Notre Dame at USC
3. 10,585,000 Monday, Sept. 7, 2015 No. 1 Ohio State at Virginia Tech
Records date back to 1990
No. 1 Ohio State at Virginia Tech: A Record Breaker for WatchESPN
Additionally, college football's week one finale was the most-streamed regular-season college football game on WatchESPN of all time. Across all devices, the Ohio State victory had an average minute audience of 194,000 users and a total of 708,000 unique viewers on WatchESPN, accumulating 41,900,000 minutes viewed throughout the game. Each category is an increase from the November, 29, 2014, Iron Bowl featuring Auburn at Alabama - which held the previous best in each category - by 63%, (119,000 users) 49%, (475,000 unique viewers) and 43% (29,300,000 live minutes), respectively.
ABC Saturday Night Football: No. 20 Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Alabama
2015's premiere of ABC Saturday Night Football featuring No. 20 Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Alabama (Sept. 5 at 8 p.m.) garnered 7,967,000 viewers, the most-watched game on Saturday and the second most-watched game of Week 1 -- across all networks. The Crimson Tide's victory was up 34% in viewership compared to the 2014 ABC Saturday Night Football opener featuring Oklahoma State vs. Florida State (5,955,000 viewers).
Additional ESPN College Football Week 1 Highlights
Between Thursday, Sept. 3, and Monday, Sept. 7, ESPN televised eight games averaging 3,356,000 viewers, up 27% from the seven games which aired during 2014's opening weekend on ESPN (2,791,000 viewers). Additional highlights include:
· ESPN televised the most-viewed game on Thursday, Sept. 3, when 3,601,000 viewers tuned into North Carolina vs. South Carolina (6 p.m.), which was up 49% from the 2014 Thursday night opener featuring Boise State at Ole Miss (2,418,000 viewers).
· Friday night's games -- No.4 Baylor at SMU and Washington at No.23 Boise State - were viewed by 2,003,000 and 2,058,000 people, respectively, up 85% and 115%, respectively, from the 2014 Friday night opening doubleheader featuring BYU at UConn (1,081,000 viewers ) and UNLV at Arizona (955,000 viewers).
· Across ABC, ESPN, and ESPNU, 16 games averaged 2,620,000 viewers in week 1, up 21% (2,174,000 viewers) from the 17 games televised on the same networks, plus ESPN2, last season's week 1.
Note: Due to US Open coverage, ESPN2 was not utilized in week 1 this season
Record-Setting Opening Weekend for WatchESPN
The record-setting No. 1 Ohio State-Virginia Tech stream on WatchESPN capped off the most-viewed regular-season college football week ever for the product as 2,500,000 unique devices used WatchESPN, totaling 210,000,000 live minutes watched. Both figures represent sharp growth -- 55% and 61%, respectively -- compared to last season's opening weekend.
SVP SportsCenter Debuts
Following No.1 Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech, ESPN debuted a new version of SportsCenter featuring Scott Van Pelt (weekdays at midnight). The first episode of #SCSVP (11:30 p.m. - 1 a.m.) averaged 2,155,000 viewers, up 46% from the SportsCenter following the 2014 Labor Day game (1,475,000 viewers).