Monday night’s primetime game between BYU and Navy averaged just 1.15 million viewers on ESPN, making it the least-watched Labor Day night game in more than two decades.
However, Cougar fans should remember that it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison this year as the numbers come with a laundry list of caveats thanks to the global pandemic.
The game faced tough competition with the NBA and NHL playoffs, including TNT’s NBA doubleheader with the Celtics-Raptors (2.71M) and the Clippers-Nuggets (3.45M). Usually the first few weeks of college football faces no competition on the sports calendar. It didn’t help either that BYU turned the game into a blowout and there were no fans at the game either.
According to Sports Media Watch, with everything going on and in this ratings environment, anything above a 1.0 rating would have been solid. However, with a 0.35 rating, the BYU-Navy game wasn’t even the highest-rated game of the week 1 slate.
The SMU-Texas State game Saturday afternoon had the highest viewership with 1.23 million viewers. BYU-Navy finished second while Arkansas State-Memphis finished third (1.03 million viewers), and Eastern Kentucky-Marshall was fourth with 980,000 viewers.
Labor Day Ratings
2020: BYU-Navy: 0.35 rating (1.15 million viewers)
2019: Notre Dame-Louisville: 3.3 rating (5.6 million viewers)
2018: Virginia Tech-Florida State: 3.4 rating (5.58 million viewers)
2017: Tennessee-Georgia Tech: 3.3 rating (5.27 million viewers)
2016: Mississippi-Florida State: 5.3 rating (8.35 million viewers)
2015: Ohio State-Virginia Tech: 6.6 rating (10.59 million viewers)
2014: Miami-Louisville: 2.7 rating (3.61 million viewers)
2013: Florida State-Pittsburgh: 2.9 rating (4.47 million viewers)
2012: Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech: 2.8 rating (4.3 million viewers)
2011: Miami-Maryland: 2.9 rating (4.4 million viewers)
2010: Boise State-Virginia Tech: 7.3 rating (9.9 million viewers)
National Media Attention
BYU’s blowout win in primetime still caught the eyes of college football media pundits across the nation on top of the nice shoutout on SportsCenter with Kirk Herbstreit joining Scott Van Pelt to break down the game.
Clay Travis, Founder of Outkick the Coverage and a morning host for Fox Sports Radio, praised BYU calling it a beatdown of epic proportions by the Cougars. He went on to talk about how so many conferences found reasons why they couldn’t play, yet the Cougars went out and found a way to play.
In a separate segment, Travis went on to say that he’s now buying a BYU t-shirt and that he shouldn’t have bet against them. Here’s a little bit of what he had to say:
“I want to give props to BYU. BYU is the only team out west playing as many games as they are. I gotta give them credit. I was on the wrong side of the bet, but I gotta give credit to BYU. When everyone else ran and hid, and when their schedule got canceled and when all the other teams on the west coast said this is impossible, BYU stepped up and said we are going to find a way. … I gotta get myself a BYU t-shirt to support them. Go Cougars for finding a way to get it done. When everyone else said it’s impossible to play, BYU went out and dominated Navy.”