College Football’s Week Six (2023):
Notre Dame-Louisville Provides Ratings Hit;
Virginia Tech-FSU, Syracuse-UNC Also Help

By David Glenn
North Carolina Sports Network

The Atlantic Coast Conference continued its solid run of strong television ratings during Week Six of college football season, with Louisville’s victory over ratings juggernaut Notre Dame in a prime-time TV slot giving the ACC one of the college gridiron’s five most-watched games of the weekend for the sixth week in a row.

The audience for #5 Florida State’s 39-17 home victory over Virginia Tech also cracked the top 10 nationally, continuing the Seminoles’ status as the ACC’s most powerful football TV brand, and #14 North Carolina’s 40-7 annihilation of Syracuse in Chapel Hill surpassed the 1 million mark and lured the 13th-best viewership of the entire college football weekend.

Below are the 10 most-watched games of the Oct. 6-7 weekend, including nine conference matchups (three in the SEC, two in the Big 12, two in the Big Ten, one in the ACC, one in the Pac-12) and that single nonconference contest, 5-0 Louisville’s 33-20 triumph over #10 Notre Dame.

Meanwhile, for the first time in six weeks, the resurgent Colorado program under new coach Deion Sanders failed to attract one of the largest audiences in college football, although that news came with an asterisk. Because the 4-2 Buffaloes’ 27-24 victory at Arizona State was broadcast on the Pac-12 Network, which (like the ACC Network and a few other sports-oriented channels) is not rated by Nielsen Media Research, there is no public audience estimate available for that game.

Each of Colorado’s first five games this season attracted a massive audience: 7.3 million for the Buffaloes’ win at TCU, 8.7 million for their victory over Nebraska, 9.3 million for their triumph over Colorado State, 10.03 million for their 42-6 loss at #10 Oregon, and 7.2 million for their 48-41 home defeat at the hands of #8 Southern Cal.

For the most-watched college football games from earlier this season, please visit our summaries from Week OneWeek Two, Week Three, Week Four and Week Five.

Game — Time Slot, Channel, Avg. Audience

1. Oklahoma-Texas — Sat. (noon), ABC/ESPN2, 8.1 million
2. Alabama-Texas A&M — Sat. (3:30 pm), CBS, 7.2 million
3. Notre Dame-Louisville — Sat. (7:30 pm), ABC, 5.2 million
4. Maryland-Ohio State — Sat. (noon), FOX, 4.5 million
5. Kentucky-Georgia — Sat. (7 pm), ESPN, 3.2 million
6. Michigan-Minnesota — Sat. (7:30 pm), NBC, 3.1 million
7. Virginia Tech-Florida State — Sat. (3:30 pm), ABC, 3.1 million
8. Arizona-Southern Cal — Sat. (10:30 pm), ESPN, 2.6 million
9. LSU-Missouri — Sat. (noon), ESPN, 2.3 million
10. Kansas State-Oklahoma State — Fri. (7:30 pm), ESPN, 2.3 million

Other Rated^ Games Involving ACC/NC Teams

Syracuse-North Carolina — Sat. (3:30 pm), ESPN, 1 million
Marshall-NC State — Sat. (2 pm), CW, 386,000

^-Nielsen does not provide ratings for games broadcast on some conference-specific (ACC Network, Pac-12 Network, SEC Network) channels and others (e.g., CBSSN) that rarely have 1M+ audiences

Predictably, the head-to-head matchup between nationally ranked Notre Dame and 5-0 Louisville enabled the ACC to be a part of at least one of the nation’s five most-watched games for the sixth week in a row.

Earlier this season, Florida State’s win over LSU (Week One), Duke’s victory over Clemson (Week One), Miami’s triumph over Texas A&M (Week Two), the Seminoles’ win at Boston College (Week Three), FSU’s victory at Clemson (Week Four) and Notre Dame’s close win at Duke (Week Five) also finished in the top five nationally.

Elsewhere, although NC State’s 48-41 victory over Marshall didn’t draw a big number (386,000), it fared well compared to other games broadcast so far this season as part of the ACC’s new partnership with The CW.

Only the first CW game of the 2023 season, Cincinnati’s visit to Pittsburgh on Sept. 9, drew a larger estimated audience (617,000) than the Wolfpack’s win over the Thundering Herd.

NOTE1: According to Nielsen’s ratings system, “average audience” represents the number of viewers two years old or older who are watching a program during its average minute. The “total audience” number, representing those who tuned in for six or more minutes of a broadcast, is almost always much higher.

NOTE2: Since September 2020, Nielsen’s numbers also include out-of-home viewers (e.g., those in bars, restaurants). Same-day DVR viewers also are included.

NOTE3: Because the number of American TV households (approximately 124 million) has become so much larger than the number of American pay-TV households (approximately 76 million), the most-watched games are typically on broadcast channels (i.e., ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) and less frequently on cable channels (e.g., ESPN, ESPN2, FS1).

NOTE4: Nielsen reports separate viewing numbers, which include streaming (still a low percentage of viewers), soon after its TV-specific numbers.