Ever wondered why the Big Ten is driven down your throat each fall? Here’s your proof: the most watched college football games of 2017 – so far – tells you everything you need to know about how ESPN/ABC/FS1/Fox make money. You go after Big Ten TV rights, exactly what Fox and ESPN did in a $2.64 billion deal that started this season gave Fox the No. 1 game pick — execs selected the Michigan-Ohio State game.
How valuable is the Michigan-Ohio State game? It normally sets records for viewership. 2016 was huge.
The game, which aired on ABC at noon, pulled in an overnight television rating of 10.4, the highest overnight rating for any game this season, and nearly 50% higher than the second-most-watched game of the season.
That 10.4 rating is the highest-ever recorded for a college football game that kicked off at noon on the east coast, according to ESPN. It is also the second-highest rated college football game ever aired on ABC, trailing only the 2006 Ohio State-Michigan game, when the teams were ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.
Fox will also get Saturday’s Penn State-Ohio State game and it’ll start at 3:30 so the station will be able to go straight from CFB to the World Series.