College Football’s Week 11 (2023):
Miami-Florida State = ACC’s Only Top-10 Tilt,
As Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC Games Lead The Way

By David Glenn
North Carolina Sports Network

The Atlantic Coast Conference, after a two-month run of very solid and occasionally spectacular television numbers, posted its third consecutive week of disappointing ratings results during Week 11 of the 2023 college football season.

For just the fourth time this season, the ACC was involved in only one of the 10 most-watched games overall. That performance paled in comparison to those of the other Power Five conferences, including the disintegrating Pac-12.

As usual, the two leagues with by far the most lucrative television contracts, the SEC and the Big Ten, continue to produce multiple top-10 audiences on a weekly basis. Indeed, on Saturday, the two leagues combined (see below) for four of the top six college football audiences of the week.

Below are the 10 most-watched games of the extended Nov. 7-11 college football slate. All 10 were conference matchups: three in the SEC, two in the Big 12, two in the Big Ten, two in the Pac-12, and one in the ACC.

For the largest college football audiences from earlier this season, please visit our summaries from Week OneWeek Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five, Week Six, Week Seven, Week Eight, Week Nine and Week 10.

Game — Time Slot, Channel, Avg. Audience

1. Michigan-Penn State — Sat. (noon), FOX, 9.2 million
2. Utah-Washington — Sat. (3:30 pm), FOX, 5.2 million
3. Mississippi-Georgia — Sat. (7 pm), ESPN, 4.8 million
4. Miami-Florida State — Sat. (3:30 pm), ABC, 4.2 million
5. Tennessee-Missouri — Sat. (3:30 pm), CBS, 3.6 million
6. Michigan State-Ohio State — Sat. (7:30 pm), NBC, 3.6 million
7. Southern Cal-Oregon — Sat. (10:30 pm), FOX, 3 million
8. Texas-Texas Christian — Sat. (7:30 pm), ABC, 2.8 million
9. Alabama-Kentucky — Sat. (noon), ESPN, 2.8 million
10. West Virginia-Oklahoma — Sat. (7 pm), FOX, 2.4 million

Other Rated^ Games Involving ACC/NC Teams

Georgia Tech-Clemson — Sat. (noon), ABC, 1.6 million
Virginia-Louisville — Thurs. (7:30 pm), ESPN, 1.3 million
NC State-Wake Forest — Sat. (2 pm), CW, 289,000
NC Central-Howard — Sat. (3:30 pm), ESPNU, 26,000

^-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

If there was a secondary highlight for the ACC, beyond the predictably strong Miami-Florida State juggernaut (estimated audience of 4.2 million) that matched two of the league’s three (with Clemson) most consistently strong football TV brands, it was the Thursday night matchup between lowly Virginia (2-7) and #11 Louisville (8-1).

The Cardinals’ exciting 31-24 comeback victory, in which they scored 17 fourth-quarter points, attracted a very strong number (1.3 million) on ESPN, relatively speaking. Thus far this season, only one of ESPN’s prime-time Thursday games has drawn a larger audience.

Here are the other results from ESPN’s Thursday night window so far in 2023, in order of estimated audience size: Florida-Utah (3.2 million) in Week One, Navy-Memphis (1.1 million) in Week Three, Wake Forest-Duke (814,000) in Week 10, Syracuse-Virginia Tech (782,000) in Week Nine, Georgia State-Coastal Carolina (671,000) in Week Four, James Madison-Marshall (603,000) in Week Eight, Temple-Tulsa (567,000) in Week Five, Western Kentucky-Louisiana Tech (567,000) in Week Six and SMU-ECU (467,000) in Week Seven.

Meanwhile, the in-state clash between long-time rivals NC State and Wake Forest in Winston-Salem attracted a very disappointing number as part of the ACC’s new contract with The CW. The Wolfpack’s 26-6 victory, a defensive-oriented grinder with very little drama or suspense, attracted only 289,000 viewers.

Previous matchups on The CW this season drew estimated audiences of 788,000 (Virginia-North Carolina), 642,000 (Clemson-NC State), 617,000 (Cincinnati-Pitt), 569,000 (Louisville-Pitt), 386,000 (Marshall-NC State), 367,000 (UVa-Boston College), 332,000 (Georgia Tech-Wake Forest), 262,000 (Georgia Tech-UVa) and 205,000 (VMI-NC State).

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.