Deion Sanders is college football's biggest current draw. His success and high profile with Colorado have been the sport's most prominent story early through the 2023 season.
Doubting Coach Prime's box office power at this point seems silly (especially after he was featured on 60 Minutes). But ESPN’s viewership numbers from Saturday night’s Colorado-Colorado State matchup confirm the Buffaloes’ must-see TV status.
The telecast averaged 9.3 million viewers (per Sports Media Watch), ESPN's fifth-largest audience for a college football game. That number came despite a 10 p.m. ET kickoff. The late start also resulted in the largest ratings ever for a late-night broadcast across ESPN's group of networks.
🔥 @CUBuffsFootball's comeback thriller registers 𝟗.𝟑 𝐌𝐈𝐋𝐋𝐈𝐎𝐍 𝐕𝐈𝐄𝐖𝐄𝐑𝐒— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) September 19, 2023
🏈ESPN’s 5th most-watched CFB game on record
🏈Shatters previous ESPN late prime window viewership high
🏈@ESPNCFB's most-streamed regular season game of all time pic.twitter.com/his917lb0F
According to ESPN, the telecast drew 11.1 million viewers at its peak (from 11 to 11:15 p.m. ET). Additionally, the Rams-Buffaloes tilt was also the most-streamed regular season telecast in network history.
The game also benefited from nearly a week of pregame hype thanks to Colorado State coach Jay Norvell's remarks widely perceived as a jab at Sanders. The trash-talk and anticipation for a response from Coach Prime and his team created hype typically seen before a wrestling or boxing match. ESPN was the obvious beneficiary.