TV By the Numbers: British Open, NBA Finals Vie for Watch Time, Ad Impressions

U.S. golfer Collin Morikawa tees off on the 18th during his final round on day 4 of The 149th British Open Golf Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich in south-east England on July 18, 2021.
U.S. golfer Collin Morikawa tees off on the 18th during his final round on day 4 of The 149th British Open Golf Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich in south-east England on July 18, 2021. (Image credit: Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images)

Our snapshot of TV by the numbers for the week of July 12-18 shines a spotlight on the most-watched shows and networks using glass-level data from Vizio’s Inscape, and the top shows and networks by TV ad impressions with insights via

Most-Watched Shows and Networks

Via Inscape, Vizio’s TV data product with glass-level insights from a panel of more than 17 million active and opted-in smart TVs. Data is linear, live TV only and includes all episode types (new and reruns). Rankings are by percent share duration (i.e., time spent watching).

Though the NBA Finals are still ongoing, a new program has taken the lead in terms of minutes watched on TV. During the week of July 12-18, the Open Championship (the British Open, to some) took first place with 1.92% of watch-time. After topping the previous week’s ranking, the NBA Finals fall one spot to second, with 1.26% of minutes watched.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit remains No. 3 for the week with 1.12% of watch-time, followed by Good Morning America (0.89%) and Today (0.70%). SVU is one of numerous dramas to appear in this week’s ranking. Some of the others include NCIS (No. 9), NCIS: New Orleans (No. 10), Gunsmoke (No. 13), Law & Order (No. 19), Forensic Files (No. 24) and Criminal Minds (No. 25).

Major League Baseball was off for much of the week, but still managed 0.43% of watch-time to rank No. 18 overall. However, the 2021 MLB All-Star Game is all the way up at No. 11, with 0.52% of minutes watched. The CONCACAF Gold Cup’s group stages are a few places ahead, ranking No. 8 before the soccer event transitions to the knockout rounds that should lead to a hotly anticipated championship match between rival U.S. and Mexican national teams.

Also Read: Summer 2021 TV Premiere Dates

Most-watched shows on TV by percent duration July 12-18

ABC maintains its lead in the watch-time ranking for the second week in a row, thanks in part to the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. The network has 6.97% of total minutes watched, keeping it ahead of NBC in second place with 6.37%. CBS is in third again, with 5.29% of watch-time. Fox rides sports to leap from No. 5 to No. 4 with 4.08% of minutes watched, while Fox News rounds out the top five at 3.94%.

IFC makes the chart’s biggest week-over-week leap, from not appearing among the top 50 to placing 10th overall. Discovery Channel rides Shark Week from No. 20 to No. 15. The Golf Channel, after splitting final round coverage of the Open Championship with NBC, jumps from No. 50 to No. 23 with 1.21% of watch-time. TV Land closes out the top 25 ranking for July 12-18, at 1.16% of minutes watched.

Most-watched networks on TV by percent duration July 12-18

Top Shows and Networks By TV Ad Impressions

Via, the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company. Rankings are by TV ad impressions, for new episodes only. 

The NBA Finals deliver the most TV ad impressions yet again, with over 1.6 billion from July 12-18. Also topping the 1 billion impressions mark are both the 2021 Open Championship (1.4 billion) and Major League Baseball (1.1 billion). Good Morning America (872 million TV ad impressions) and Today (661 million) round out the top five.

News and talk programming makes up about 60% of this week’s top 25 shows by TV ad impressions. Sports are 20%, while reality TV is 12%. Speaking of reality TV, Big Brother and Love Island are among the biggest movers for the week, with each climbing more than five spots (Big Brother actually leaps from 23rd to 11th).

Top shows by TV ad impressions July 12-18

ABC stays on top of the week’s ad-impressions-by-network ranking, with over 6.2 billion from June 12-18. While ABC is airing the NBA Finals, NBC just completed the Open Championship and will be launching into Summer Olympics coverage shortly. NBC is No. 2 for the week, with 4.6 billion TV ad impressions.

Fox News edges up one spot to No. 3 with 4.13 billion impressions, followed by CBS (4.10 billion) and MSNBC (2.5 billion). Final round Open Championship coverage vaults the Golf Channel up from No. 19 to No. 11. Food Network moves from 25th up to 20th, while Investigation Discovery closes out the weekly ranking this time around.

Top networks by TV ad impressions July 12-18

John Cassillo is an analyst and contributor with TV[R]EV.