With nine games airing on national television so far this season, BYU football has continued to draw viewership from around the country. Their most recent matchup with Coastal Carolina on ESPNU drew the most eyeballs for that station since 2015. BYU has averaged 744,555 viewers per game this season. Last year, the Cougars averaged 1.39 millions viewers per game through seven games with data, although that includes their bowl game and high-profile games against Tennessee and USC.
The matchup against the Chanticleers last Saturday was the most viewed game of the season for BYU with 1.212 million viewers. This is even more impressive when you consider the game was added only days before it actually happened and was aired on the smaller cable channel.
The Cougars drew 1.155 million viewers on Oct. 16 against Houston, a Friday night game aired on ESPN. Last season BYU played Boise State on Saturday, Oct. 19 on ESPN 2 and drew 571,000.
BYU vs. Navy on Monday, Sept. 7 was the third most viewed game this year with 1.145 million viewers. This was down from what Labor Day games usually draw, but was competing with the NBA Playoffs during that time slot as well. The Cougars played Utah on Thursday, Aug. 29 last season and followed that up by playing at Tennessee on Saturday, Sept. 7. Both games were aired on ESPN and drew 1.68 million and 1.6 million, respectively.
BYU vs. Coastal Carolina was the fifth-most watched ESPNU game of all-time. https://t.co/6vg6ITuk5T
— Hunter Miller (@MillerHHunter) December 9, 2020
BYU’s game against Troy on Saturday, Sept. 26 drew 795,000 viewers on ESPN. BYU’s game against Toledo from last season was aired on ESPN+, so there is no data for that game, but Sports Media Watch had this as a 43 percent drop in viewership from the same channel and time in 2019. BYU drew 2.67 million viewers last season against USC on Saturday, Sept. 14.
Similar viewership numbers were reported on back-to-back games against Texas State on Saturday, Oct. 24 and against Western Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 31. Both games aired on ESPN. BYU drew 716,000 and 788,000, respectively. This is up from the numbers last year against Boise State, and against Utah State on Saturday, Nov. 2 on ESPN 2, which had 592,000 viewers.
This year against Boise State, BYU drew 680,000 viewers on Friday, Nov. 6 on FS1. As Mitch Harper of KSLSports.com pointed out, this game aired amidst ongoing post-election coverage and that likely cut into the viewership for this game. Still, it’s impressive that BYU and Boise State outdid their numbers from last season.
Louisiana Tech and UTSA were the two lowest-rated contests this season, with 505,000 viewers for La. Tech on Friday, Oct. 2, and 317,000 for UTSA on Saturday, Oct. 10. Both games aired on ESPN 2, and still likely accounted for more viewership than the game against Toledo around the same time last season.
Written by Bridger Beal-Cvetko
Bridger is a student at Utah Valley University where he studies journalism and mass communication. He is the sports editor of the on-campus newspaper, The Review. Bridger is a life-long Cougar fan and college football enthusiast.