ACC football is getting solid television coverage this year.


For years it seemed extremely rare that the ACC had a primetime national TV game. There was always the Labor Day game, FSU\Clemson (mostly due to the Bowden Bowl storyline), maybe FSU\Miami, and maybe a couple of other primetime games. This year though there seems to quite a few more ACC teams being featured in primetime, and that’s always good for a conference trying to gain exposure for it’s football programs. You may think it would be due to a better football product, but that’s only tells part of the story.

First let’s go over the ACC Teams featured in primetime (7 PM or later). For me these are games on ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, or ESPN2. In addition the NOON ESPN, ESPN2 are normally national games, and I will count those as a primetime television sport.

Week 1 College Football TV Ratings – from SportsMediaWatch.com

4.0 6.40M 3:30 PM West Virginia/Alabama or Cal/Northwestern ABC
3.8 6.03M 8:00 PM FSU/Oklahoma St. ABC
2.8 4.68M 9:00 PM Wisconsin/LSU ESPN
2.3 3.95M 5:30 PM Clemson/Georgia ESPN
1.9 2.92M 12:00 PM UCLA/Virginia ESPN

Week 2 College Football TV Ratings – from SportsMediaWatch.com

4.1 6.54M 3:30 PM USC/Stanford ABC
3.5 5.98M 6:30 PM Michigan St./Oregon FOX
2.7 4.63M 7:30 PM Michigan/Notre Dame NBC
2.6 4.31M 8:00 PM Virginia Tech/Ohio State ESPN

Week 3 College Football TV Ratings – from SportsMediaWatch.com

4.1 6.77M 5:00 PM Georgia/South Carolina CBS
2.2 3.76M 8:00 PM Tennessee/Oklahoma ABC
2.1 3.28M 3:30 PM Arkansas/Texas Tech ABC
1.9 3.13M 7:30 PM Purdue/Notre Dame NBC
1.9 2.96M 12:00 PM Kent State/Ohio State or Boise St./UConn ABC
1.7 2.56M 12:00 PM ECU/Virginia Tech ESPN
1.6 2.65M 8:00 PM UCLA/Texas FOX
1.1 1.78M 6:00 PM Southern Miss/Alabama ESPN2
1.1 1.75M 8:00 PM USC/Boston College ESPN

Week 4 hasn’t been released in the tidy Sportswatch table format yet, but here are some of the ACC numbers…

FSU/Clemson 8 PM ABC

“The 4.9 for FSU’s victory is the second-highest college football overnight of the season, trailing only Florida/Alabama (5.1).”

Also interesting that Georgia Tech\Virginia Tech ESPN earned the same rating at noon, as Mississippi St.\LSU on ESPN at night.


In the first 4 weeks of the season ACC teams had 7 prime TV spots, with strong TV ratings. In 3 of the first 4 weeks, an ACC team was part of a game that was in the top 4 rated college football games that week. It helps to have those prime television spots. So why has this happened?

The Florida State effect… 

Having the number 1 team national, and defending national champion doesn’t hurt. Both weeks FSU was in a primetime television spot it was the 2nd biggest game of the weekend.

Improved Football Product

Would the FSU/Clemson be primetime viewing if Clemson had been mired mediocrity or FSU had continued to flounder as program as it did for a good portion of the 2000s?

Intriguing Out of Conference Games 

FSU/Oklahoma St., USC/Boston College, Clemson/UGA, Ohio State/Virginia Tech, UCLA/Virginia all were in the top 10 rated College football Games of the weekend, and other than USC/BC all were in the top 4 of that weekend.

Maybe there’s some actual ACC football demand

When unranked Georgia Tech/Virginia Tech can be put on noon, and draw the same rating as two undefeated SEC teams Miss. St. / LSU I think that speaks for itself. Pittsburgh/Boston was college football’s highest rated Thursday/Friday night game through the first 3 weeks. Louisville/Miami on Labor Day night earned a solid 2.3 raiting as well.

More Networks

I hadn’t thought of more networks until someone on twitter, DM’d me as I discussing this on twitter. With more networks FS1, Fox, Pac 12 Network, SEC Network, Big 10 Network, there is less inventory for the prime slots to choose from. The ACC is benefiting from this. It’s plain to see that ESPN/ESPN2/ABC games are still out rating all but a handful of games elsewhere.

Conference networks don’t release rating numbers, but that was still inventory that would have competed for those slots.

Going forward….

September 27 

Duke\Miami ESPN2 7:30 PM

Syracuse\Notre Dame ABC 8 PM

October 4

Georgia Tech\Miami ESPN2 7:30 PM

As we get into ACC conference play and into the ACC’s games with Notre Dame there are more prime TV slots coming. This is an opportunity to get additional national exposure for the ACC, where it seemed in the past the SEC filled many of the slots. The ACC teams have won some of these big OOC games. Georgia Tech\Virginia Tech was a competitive in conference matchup.

If the ACC was looking for more exposure they have it. Though I didn’t go into much detail here, the conference’s strong ratings in particular with the conference games that in some cases don’t even feature a ranked team can’t hurt the chances of an ACC network.

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1 comment

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  1. Hokie Mark says:

    Yep. IMO, part of it is better ACC football, and part of it is BTN, PTN and SECN draining content from ESPN.

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