After a successful inaugural season, ESPN on ABC's Saturday Night Football, broadcast television's first-ever weekly college football primetime series, will return beginning September 1. The debut season of Saturday Night Football out delivered the previous year's programming in the same time slot by 24%, performed strongly in key demographic categories and won the night for all of television on six occasions (additional audience information below).
"The response to this unprecedented college football showcase was overwhelming," said George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports. "The success of this series further demonstrates our leadership position with college sports fans, and we applaud the conferences for working with us to maximize this opportunity."
Steve McPherson, president, ABC Entertainment, added: "The addition of Saturday Night Football to our lineup gave sports fans access to great college football coverage. It also delivered a new audience for ABC, strengthening our schedule for Saturday and overall. We're glad to have this successful franchise back for the coming season and hope to continue the partnership for a long time to come."
The 12-week Saturday Night Football series, highlighting ABC's 42nd season of extensive college football action, will feature high profile inter-conference match-ups and top conference showdowns involving teams from the Pac-10, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 and BIG EAST, as well as Notre Dame. Every telecast, beginning September 1 and concluding December 1 with the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship, will kick off at 8:00 p.m., ET and be offered in high definition on ABC HD.
Confirmed Saturday Night Football broadcasts include Tennessee at California (September 1), USC at Nebraska (September 15), Washington State at USC & Iowa at Wisconsin (September 22), and Notre Dame at UCLA (October 6). The schedule does not include games on September 8 and October 13, when ESPN on ABC will televise NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races from Richmond and Charlotte, respectively.
Every Saturday Night Football window from September 29 to November 24 will feature game selections on a six- or 12-day basis (except Notre Dame at UCLA on October 6), ensuring Saturday Night Football will televise the best match-ups available throughout the season.
In addition to the confirmed games on the schedule, four Big Ten and three Pac-10 match-ups have been designated for a primetime telecast on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 (specific games in the schedule below). Network assignments for those contests will be determined six or 12 days before the date of the game. The Saturday Night Football schedule also provides the flexibility to select the best available games from the Big 12, ACC and BIG EAST on a six- or 12-day basis as the season progresses.
Schedule highlights of announced primetime games (for ABC, ESPN or ESPN2) and available for a Saturday Night Football telecast include:
• USC, last year's Rose Bowl winner and a consensus pre-season National Championship contender, will be televised five times -- at Nebraska (Sept. 15 on Saturday Night Football), Washington State (Sept. 22 on Saturday Night Football), at Washington (Sept. 29), Oregon State (Nov. 3) and at California (Nov. 10).
• Last year's National Championship game participant and defending Big Ten conference champion Ohio State will appear three times -- at Minnesota (Sept. 29), at Purdue (Oct. 6) and at Penn State (Oct. 27).
• Michigan, led by potential Heisman Trophy candidates Mike Hart and Chad Henne, at Big Ten rival Illinois October 20.
• UCLA, which upset USC in last year's final regular-season game, will host Notre Dame October 6 on "Saturday Night Football."
Saturday Night Football Scores Large Audiences
The debut season of Saturday Night Football was successful in overall viewership and across key demographics, winning the night on numerous occasions.
• Saturday Night Football averaged 5,567,000 Households, a 5.0 rating and 7,886,000 Total Viewers, outdelivering the programming in the same window the previous year by 24% (vs. 4,490,000), 22% (vs. 4.1) and 27% (vs. 6,212,000), respectively.
• The series posted significant growth in key demographics, including:
Adults 18-49: a 2.7 rating, Men 25-54: a 4.1 rating, Men 18-49: a 3.7 rating, Men 18-34: a 3.2 rating for increases of 29% (vs. 2.1), 52% (vs. 2.7), 61% (vs. 2.3) and 68% (vs. 1.9), respectively, over the previous year in the same time frame.
• On six occasions, Saturday Night Football was the highest-rated and most-viewed program on television that evening, including in Total Viewers and the key Adult 18-49 demographic.
• The Notre Dame at USC telecast (November 25) averaged 10,048,000 Households, a 9.0 rating and 14,647,000 Total Viewers, making it the second-most-viewed regular season college football game on any network since November 30, 1996 (Florida at Florida State on ABC averaged 10,593,000 Households), behind Michigan at Ohio State on ABC November 18, 2006 (14,479,000 Households, a 13.0 rating and 21,037,000 Total Viewers).
2007 "SATURDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL" SCHEDULE ON ABC:
• Game selections on September 1, 15 and 22 and October 6 have been determined.
• Selected Big Ten and Pac-10 games from September 29 through November 24 are designated for primetime on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 with network assignments to be determined on a six- or 12-day basis (except Notre Dame at UCLA on October 6).
• ACC, Big 12 and BIG EAST Saturday Night Football game selections will be determined on a six- or 12-day basis.
DATE TIME (ET) GAME
Sept. 1 8:00 p.m. Tennessee at California
Sept. 15 8:00 p.m. USC at Nebraska
Sept. 22 8:00 p.m. Washington State at USC and Iowa at Wisconsin ^
Sept. 29 8:00 p.m. TBD: Ohio State at Minnesota* and/or USC at Washington*
Oct. 6 8:00 p.m. Notre Dame at UCLA (confirmed); potential additional games:
Ohio State at Purdue** and/or ACC or Big 12 or BIG EAST
Oct. 20 8:00 p.m. TBD: Michigan at Illinois*** or ACC or Big 12
Oct. 27 8:00 p.m. TBD: Ohio State at Penn State*** or Big 12 or BIG EAST
Nov. 3 8:00 p.m. TBD: Oregon State at USC*** or ACC or Big 12 or BIG EAST
Nov. 10 8:00 p.m. TBD: USC at California*** or ACC or Big 12 or BIG EAST
Nov. 17 8:00 p.m. TBD: ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST
Nov. 24 8:00 p.m. TBD: ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST
Dec. 1 8:00 p.m. Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game
^ Split national telecast
*One or both games will be on ABC; if one game on ABC, the other will be televised in primetime on ESPN or ESPN2
** Notre Dame at UCLA is confirmed for Saturday Night Football; Ohio State at Purdue will be televised in primetime on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
*** Selected game will be in primetime on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2