Skip to main content

Eight of the country's top 11 college football TV markets are in the South

As ESPN prepares for another season of college football coverage, the network has released a list of its top 25 television markets from last season. 

For the 12th straight season, Birmingham garnered the highest rating for all of ESPN's college football regular season college football coverage from 2012. With an 8.9 rating, Birmingham nearly doubled No. 2 Greenville (S.C.), who posted a 4.7 rating. SEC-centric markets littered the top five, with Knoxville (Tenn.) and New Orleans claiming third and fourth place, followed by Jacksonville and Columbus in a tie for fifth.

Worth noting, this list isn't a composite rating for all college football television coverage, since it obviously leaves out CBS, NBC, Fox, etc. But considering the reach ESPN has throughout every conference of FBS, we feel confident in saying this list is close enough to the real thing.

Without further ado, the top 25:

1. Birmingham
2. Greenville 
3. Knoxville 
4. New Orleans
5. Jacksonville
7. Atlanta
8. Oklahoma City
9. Nashville
10. Memphis
12. Tulsa
Las Vegas
15. Portland
17. Orlando
20. Louisville
Tampa-St. Petersburg
22. West Palm Beach
Fort Myers

While the folks in SEC country watch college football at a higher rate than anywhere else, SEC teams themselves are not often participants in ESPN's most-watched regular season games. In fact, the SEC is nowhere to be found among ESPN's most-watched regular season games. 

ESPN's top five regular season audiences
1. USC at Ohio State (Sept. 12, 2009): 10.586 million viewers
2. Boise State vs. Virginia Tech (Sept. 6, 2010): 9.888 million
3. Florida State at Miami (Sept. 4, 2006): 9.12 million
4. Miami at Florida State (Sept. 7, 2009): 8.406 million
5. Arizona at Oregon (Nov. 26, 2010): 7.787 million

ABC's top five regular season audiences
1. Ohio State at Michigan (Nov. 18, 2006): 21.037 million
2. Notre Dame at USC (Nov. 24, 2012): 16.059 million
3. Florida at Florida State (Nov. 30, 1996): 14.829 million
4. Notre Dame at USC (Nov. 25, 2006): 14.647 million
5. Miami at Florida State (Nov. 16, 1991): 14.294 million