Fox Big Noon Having Seismic Impact on College Football

Fox Sports took a risk in 2019 by going all-in on its noon ET college football window on Saturdays. Fox moved its top matchups from primetime to noon, a move industry experts questioned at the time. Yet the strategy is paying off.

Because the 2020 season was truncated by COVID, 2019 provides the best season-over-season comparison. Through Week 9, Fox’s Big Noon Saturday games are up 17% (5,190,000 vs. 4,425,000).

Thus far in 2021, Big Noon holds an average television rating of 2.92, tied with ABC’s primetime college football broadcasts. CBS in the afternoon has averaged 2.66.

As a result, Big Noon Saturday could finish the season as the top-rated college football window across all networks, despite airing in a busy time slot that is still morning for half of the country.

There were concerns that people would not settle in front of the television at noon and spend the rest of the day there. Some also thought that an oversaturation of competing games airing on other networks would put Big Noon at a disadvantage. However, marquee matchups have kept viewers seated from start to finish.

On Saturday, Michigan-Michigan State on Fox averaged 9,289,000 viewers. That’s Fox’s 6th most-watched regular-season college football telecast ever and the most-watched on the network since the 2019 Ohio State-Michigan game, which had 12,501,000.

Here are more notes from the matchup:

The Michigan-Michigan State game was also the most-streamed regular-season broadcast in Fox Sports history, likely because of younger demographics.

In 2019, Fox also bolstered its noon window by challenging ESPN’s legacy pregame show, GameDay, with its own program, Big Noon Kickoff.

Kickoff likely can’t rival GameDay’s total viewership yet, as GameDay remains a decade-long habit for college football fans. That said, Kickoff has closed the gap as an alternative.

Big Noon Kickoff — 11 am to noon ET — is up 18% compared to 2019 (1,195,000 vs. 1,015,000). By comparison, ESPN’s Gameday — 9 am to noon ET — is off 3% from 2019 (1,751,000 vs. 1,801,000).

Fox has found a spot at noon, and so have college football fans. Big Noon’s success should bode especially well for the Big Ten. The Big Ten splits games between ESPN and Fox for $440 million per year, and that deal expires in 2024.

*Comment below with your thoughts on the noon airings:

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.

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