Behind The ScenesNCAAF

ABC’s Saturday Night Football leads in CFB TV viewership

Whether it was Louisville’s Lamar Jackson leading his team on a game-winning drive at Clemson which came up just short or Penn State’s dramatic, fourth-quarter comeback against then-undefeated Ohio State or capturing the scene at Bristol Motor Speedway as Virginia Tech played Tennessee in front of a crowd of more than 150,000 fans, ABC’s Saturday Night Football televised some of the best moments of the season.

SNF producer Bill Bonnell’s Top 3 Moments from this season:

  1. “The extended coverage of Clemson’s stadium entrance which included the famous bus ride around Memorial Stadium and Clemson’s run-down-the-hill. Then, watching Lamar Jackson in that game, which included a march down the field for a game-winning touchdown that came up just short.”
  2. “Penn State upsetting the Buckeyes during the annual White Out in Beaver Stadium! Nobody saw that coming.”
  3. “Iowa upsetting the at-the-time undefeated Michigan team at home as it shook up both the Big Ten and College Football Playoff picture.”

“The importance of the games and the drama which ensued was, collectively, among the best in all the years I have been a part of the franchise,” said Saturday Night Football producer Bill Bonnell.

The week-in-week-out memorable moments captured the attention of the college football fans as Saturday Night Football was TV’s most-watched college football franchise on any network this season. The 14-game slate delivered an average total live audience of 6,087,000 viewers a week, including a TV average audience of 5,996,000 viewers and a streaming average audience of 91,000 viewers. ABC’s viewership was up 10 percent from last season and the streaming was up 81 percent.

“Our collective thanks go out to the millions of fans across the country who choose to tune in each week,” said Vice President of Programming and Acquisitions, Nick Dawson. “Saturday Night Football is our premier college football franchise and for it to be the most-viewed franchise in the sport is a success to be celebrated by the many people and departments across ESPN who have a hand in promoting, producing and presenting the weekly series, both on our television and streaming platforms.”

Overall, more than 181 million fans watched more than 100 billion minutes of college football games on ESPN’s networks this season and ESPN games were streamed on 15,128,000 unique devices during the 2016 college football regular season, the most-unique devices ever for a college football season.

“In a continuously evolving media consumption world, college football remains stable and popular,” said Dawson. “Fans continue to tune into ABC and ESPN’s networks, across various platforms, throughout the season which is highlighted by our deep slate of games and some of the sport’s biggest matchups annually. We look forward to carrying that momentum through bowl season.”

ESPN’s bowl season begins Saturday with a doubleheader on ABC (noon & 3:30 p.m. ET) and a tripleheader on ESPN (2 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.). The 38-game slate, which includes ESPN Events 13 owned-and -operated bowls (see sidebar below), continues through the holidays and is highlighted by the New Year’s Six which include the College Football Playoff Semifinals on Dec. 31 (3 p.m. and 7 p.m.). The entire season concludes with the College Football Playoff National Championship from Tampa, Fla. on Jan. 9.

Go behind the scenes with ESPN Events

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN located in the network’s Charlotte, N.C., offices with satellite offices around the country, enters the second half of its busy season when four of the 13 bowl games the team owns and operates kicks off Saturday. The second annual Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl – from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta – airs on ABC at noon, showcasing HBCU schools North Carolina Central against Grambling State. In the video above, Senior Vice President, ESPN Events, Pete Derzis and Vice President, ESPN Events, Clint Overby explain how the team operates. Full ESPN Events bowl schedule.

– By Rachel Siegal
Jon McLeod produced the video above.

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