No. 2 Georgia’s 37-0 routing of No. 8 Arkansas didn’t exactly deliver on the hype — but ESPN’s College GameDay in Sanford Stadium certainly did.
According to ESPN PR, Saturday’s show averaged more than two million viewers, the most-viewed October show since the program was expanded to three hours in 2013. The show also had three million viewers in the final hour, the most in a final hour since Nov. 2018.
Week 5 of @CollegeGameDay in Athens, Ga.:
🏈 More than 2M viewers, the most-viewed October show since CGD expanded to 3 hours
🏈 3M viewers in the final hour, the most-watched final hour since Nov. 2018 pic.twitter.com/xE9ebZ0vV0
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) October 5, 2021
These big-time numbers make sense considering the featured matchup of the day.
Heading into Saturday’s contest, the No. 8 Razorbacks were undefeated and looking to prove themselves as surprise College Football Playoff contenders with a signature win against an SEC powerhouse. Georgia on the other hand was looking to solidify themselves as one of the most dominant teams in the nation.
The latter certainly won out as the stout Bulldogs defense allowed just 162 yards of total offense against a talented Razorbacks offense.
While there’ve been some pretty great featured matchups already this season, none really compared to the incoming hype of this conference meeting.
The only other top-10 matchup on College GameDay this year was No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 5 Georgia in Week 1. And while this was no doubt a highly-anticipated matchup, it took place it a neutral location — taking some of the air out of the usual on-campus, game-day hype.
This game-day hype is likely what’s driving this increased viewership. After a full year of empty crowds in the background of the GameDay set, the fans are back in full force with the iconic sea of signs at every show.
While viewership is clearly on the rise, the show’s Week 6 decision seems to have rubbed quite a few fans the wrong way. Instead of heading to Iowa City for a top-five matchup between No. 4 Penn State and No. 3 Iowa, the College GameDay crew will travel to Dallas for the Red River Rivalry between No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 21 Texas.