Sports Dominate September TV Viewing

 Jadeveon Clowney (99) of the Tennessee Titans during a regular season Monday Night Football game Sept. 14, 2020
(Image credit: Eric Lars Bakke / ESPN Images)

September 2020 was unlike any TV programming month we’ve seen before. Given all the COVID-19-related sports delays, in addition to the usual return of football, the NBA, NHL and MLB were finishing out their delayed seasons. As such, sports reigned supreme on TV.

According to Vizio’s Inscape, the TV data company with insights from a panel of more than 16 million smart TVs, of all the live, linear minutes watched during September, the top three programs by watch-time were NFL, NBA and MLB telecasts, with college football coming in sixth place. (NHL matches did not make the top 50 programs by watch-time.) Specifically:

  • 5.16% of minutes watched went to NFL football
  • 1.86% went to NBA basketball
  • 0.94% went to MLB baseball
  • 0.78% went to college football

For NFL games, NBC was the most popular network, capturing 1.54% of watch-time, followed by Fox (1.25%) and ESPN (0.86%). For the NBA, TNT was tops for minutes watched (0.88%), while ESPN had 0.84% of the time spent watching NBA games.

Related: It’s Game On as Live Sports Events Flood Network Lineups

Most-watched shows in September 2020

NFL's Wide Popularity 

Inscape's viewership crossover data reveals that of all the live sports in September, viewers of other sports also heavily tuned into NFL. The highest crossover: 79% of people who watched college football, MLB and/or NHL also tuned into NFL games. The lowest crossover: 13% of NBA and NFL viewers tuned into NHL matches.

Crossover viewing among sports

Of course, it can't be all sports, all the time. While football is still ongoing and baseball will be around for a little longer, the NBA and NHL have wrapped up their seasons. So, where can those fans now be found on TV? Excluding sports and news programming, reality and game shows were top of the list for sports audiences, led by American Ninja Warrior, Wheel of Fortune and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Shows watched by sports fans in September