The most viewed regular-season college football games in 2022

By Amy Daughters -

The numbers are in…according to Sports Media Watch, what follows is a breakdown of the games that drew the most TV viewership during the regular-season portion of the 2022 college football season.

Of the 20 clubs that participated in the top five most-watched Power 5 games and the top 5 non-conference contests, nine (or 45 percent) hailed from the SEC, five (or 25 percent) were Big Ten members, three were Independents, and two represented the ACC. That leaves the Big 12 and the AAC, each with one team in the mix. The Pac-12 was not represented at all.

Three elite programs participated in more than one of the most-watched games – Alabama and Ohio State each played in three such games while Florida State appeared in two.

The network/time combo that attracted the most viewers in 2022 was evenly split between a trio of options, each making the most-watched list three times: FOX’s noon ET offering, CBS’s 3:30pm ET timeslot, and then ABC’s 7:30pm ET fixture.

Of the five most-watched games featuring two Group of 5 programs (other than Army/Navy, which made the big boards), three were played on a Friday, with two coming the day after Thanksgiving. Of the ten participants, five were AAC members, four hailed from the Mountain West, and one was an Independent. Two of the five games were non-conference affairs, both featuring military academies. The Sun Belt, MAC, and C-USA were not represented.

POWER 5 CONFERENCE GAMES

1. (3) MICHIGAN at (2) OHIO STATEWeek 13, Saturday, Nov. 16, Noon EST, FOX

Viewers: 17.14 million

Also the most watched regular-season contest in 2022, only three games – the CFP National Championship and the Semifinals – attracted more viewers than did Ohio State/Michigan.

2. (2) TENNESSEE at (1) GEORGIAWeek 10, Saturday, Nov. 5, 3:30pm ET, CBS

Viewers: 13.06 million

Tennessee/Georgia was also the second-most watched among all regular-season games. It, like Ohio State/Michigan, also outdrew all the bowl games, except for the CFP action, as well as the entire offering of conference championship games.

3. (3) ALABAMA at (6) TENNESSEEWeek 7, Saturday, Oct. 15, 3:30pm ET, CBS

Viewers: 11.56 million

Alabama/Tennessee was also the third-most watched regular-season game overall and, along with Michigan/Ohio State and Tennessee/Georgia, outdrew all but the CFP portion of the postseason.

4. (10) ALABAMA at (11) OLE MISSWeek 11, Saturday, Nov. 12, 3:30pm ET, CBS

Viewers: 8.71 million

More viewers tuned in for the regular season clash between the Crimson Tide and Rebels than did the Orange Bowl (Tennessee vs. Clemson), which attracted 8.59 million.

5. (2) OHIO STATE at (13) PENN STATEWeek 9, Saturday, Oct. 29, Noon ET, FOX

Viewers: 8.27 million

NON-CONFERENCE GAMES

 1. (1) ALABAMA at TEXASWeek 2, Saturday, Sept. 10, Noon ET, FOX

Viewers: 10.6 million

Overall, Alabama/Texas was the fourth-most watched regular-season game in 2022, attracting more viewers than did the Rose Bowl (Penn State vs. Utah) with 10.19 million viewers

2. (5) NOTRE DAME at (2) OHIO STATEWeek 1, Saturday, Sept. 3, 7:30pm ET, ABC

Viewers: 10.53 million

Notre Dame/Ohio State was also the fifth-most watched regular season game in 2022.

3. FLORIDA STATE vs. LSU (at New Orleans, La.) – Week 1, Sunday, Sept. 4, 7:30pm ET, ABC

Viewers: 7.55 million

Florida State/LSU also came in as the sixth-most viewed regular season game in 2022 and was the most-viewed clash between squads that were unranked at game time.

4. ARMY vs. NAVY (at Philadelphia, Pa.) – Week 15, Saturday, Dec. 10, 3pm ET, CBS

Viewers: 6.94 million

Army/Navy was also the most viewed Group of 5 vs. Group of 5 matchup in 2022 and outdrew the Pac-12 title game (Utah vs. USC) which attracted 5.97 million.

5. FLORIDA at (16) FLORIDA STATEWeek 13, Friday, Nov. 25, 7:30pm ET, ABC

Viewers: 6.71 million

GROUP OF 5 vs. GROUP OF 5 GAMES (other than Army/Navy)

1. (19) TULANE at (21) CINCINNATIWeek 13, Friday, Nov. 25, Noon ET, ABC

Viewers: 1.72 million

Tulane/Cincinnati out drew Nebraska/Iowa, which was played that same day at 4pm ET on the Big Ten Network, pulling in 1.47 million viewers.

2. UTAH STATE at BOISE STATEWeek 13, Friday, Nov. 25, Noon ET, CBS

Viewers: 1.44 million

Utah State/Boise State outdrew Oklahoma/Texas Tech, which was played that same weekend on FS1, attracting 1.21 million viewers.

3. TULANE at HOUSTONWeek 5, Friday, September 30, 7pm ET, ESPN

Viewers: 1.26 million

More people watched Tulane/Houston than did West Virginia/Texas which was played the next evening at 7:30pm ET on FS1, with 1.19 million viewers.

4. AIR FORCE at ARMY (at Arlington, Texas) – Week 10, Saturday, Nov. 5, 11:30am ET, CBS

Viewers: 1.23 million

Air Force/Army outdrew Minnesota/Nebraska, which aired on ESPN2 in the same time slot, drawing in 1.07 million viewers.

5. NAVY at AIR FORCEWeek 5, Saturday, Oct. 1, Noon ET, CBS

Viewers: 1.13 million

More viewers tuned in for Navy/Air Force than did Purdue/Minnesota, which aired in the same time slot on ESPN2, attracting 829,000.

BONUS COVERAGE

The most-watched regular-season ACC conference game:

(10) NC STATE at (5) CLEMSONWeek 5, Saturday, Oct. 1, 7:30pm ET, ABC & ESPN2

Viewers: 4.98 million

The most-watched regular-season Big 12 conference game:

(4) TCU at (18) TEXASWeek 11, Saturday, Nov. 12, 7:30pm ET, ABC

Viewers: 5.03 million

The most-watched regular-season Pac-12 conference game:

(7) USC at (16) UCLA – Week 12, Saturday, Nov. 19, 8pm ET, FOX

Viewers: 4.53 million

Roughly 12 million fewer viewers tuned in for the biggest ACC, Big 12, and Pac-12 matchups in 2022 than did the most-watched Big Ten game. Compared to the SEC’s best offering, eight million fewer viewers watched.

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Comments (8)

Good memory for Detail, Mike.

Despite my personal Desires for Viewership to magically agree with my Wishes, ESPN / FOX follow the business viewership Numbers so they are providing their Advertisers with the viewers They’re paying the stratospheric $$$$$ amounts for…

The Big Ten doesn’t play night games after October so Ohio State/Michigan will never be a night game

Michigan and OSU always play the game early over concerns that too much drinking while tailgating will lead to fights between fans during the game.

BIG 10 , BIG 12 take note , Tulane played in the first and third most watched so called Group of 5 games .

Tulane is a logical geographic fit for the BJG 12 .

With the BIG 10 now a coast to coast conference Tulane is a perfect fit and is AAU .

Well, except those viewership numbers are tiny. Those viewership numbers are roughly equal to the 45th or 50th most watched B10 game. Something like that.

Interesting. The reality is that the top half of the Big 10 and SEC are pretty much head and shoulders over everyone, save for the occasional Big 12 or ACC Team (Sorry, Pac 12). It would make so much sense to have a promotion-relegation system… Why does Vanderbilt and Northwestern get the big $ when Tulane doesn’t? Regarding Tulane, their numbers show they have a (small, but significant) national fan base, and would be a good get for any of the P5s outside of the P2 (SEC and B10).