The Michigan State-ND game had a 3.8 rating, significantly exceeding ND's average rating of 2.6 last year. It was just a hair below the 4.0 ABC late afternoon game(s) and the 4.0 ABC primetime game, and more than double the 1.8 CBS game.That 3.8 rating translates to approximately 5.5 million viewers.
According to this St. Petersburg Times article, the ratings for the Notre Dame-Michigan game a week earlier drew a 4.3 rating nationwide while it has been reported that the Washington-Notre Dame matchup drew a 4.4 rating.
To put these numbers in perspective, when NBC first started to air the Notre Dame home games in 1991, they averaged a 5.3 rating for the first three years and a 4.4 rating for the first eight years. The last six years are a different story though. According to this USA Today article, ratings for the past six years have been 63% lower than the first eight.
It's not surprising that interest is high in the first home game for a new coach and obviously the Washington game had a compelling subtext that no doubt brought in a number of curious one-time observers. The battle against USC should produce stellar ratings, but the real test of how Weis and the resurgent Irish affect NBC ratings will come against games against lesser "name" opponents like Navy and Syracuse. With the increase lately in the number of games shown weekly on TV, I seriously doubt the ratings will ever approach the levels of the early 90's, but if the ratings do take a significant upswing, maybe NBC will finally spring for new intro music.