ESPN Sets Gridiron Records

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ESPN’s National Football League and college-football coverage this past weekend set a number of viewership marks.

The network’s presentation of the Green Bay Packers’ 30-27 triumph over the Minnesota Vikings attracted more viewers than any show on cable in 2003, according to the network. The Nov. 2 contest drew some 8 million homes and 10.99 million viewers.

The contest’s 9.1 rating boosted ESPN’s NFL season average to an 8.1 through eight games, an 11% increase from the 7.3 average through nine games (including the league’s Thursday-night opener between the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants) at the same point in the season a year ago.

Meanwhile, 11th-ranked Virginia Tech’s upset over then-No. 2 and unbeaten Miami the night before pulled nearly 3.68 million impressions, making it ESPN’s most-viewed college-football clash since a Nov. 8, 1997, game between Florida State and North Carolina.

The Hokies’ win Nov. 1 earned a 4.2 household rating, equaling the network’s best from a year ago: the Nov. 21 clash between Miami and Pittsburgh.

The Packers-Vikings and Miami-Virginia Tech games were cable's two highest-rated shows during the week of Oct. 27-Nov. 2, and they helped ESPN to lead the pack in primetime among households (a 2.8 average) and adults 18-34 (755,000 of those viewers), 18-49 (1.74 million) and 25-54 (1.76 million).

Earlier Nov. 1, the network’s College GameDay morning preview show from Norman, Okla., averaged 1.51 million households and a 1.7 rating, making it the second-most-viewed GameDay telecast ever. It trailed only the Ivy League special from Philadelphia Nov. 16, 2002, which averaged 1.52 million households and a 1.8 rating.

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