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TV By the Numbers: College Championships Propel CBS Impressions, Watch-Time Wins

Trey Sanders #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide carries the ball as Nakobe Dean #17 of the Georgia Bulldogs defends during the second half of the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 4, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
The SEC Championship game on Dec. 4, which saw the Alabama Crimson Tide beat the Georgia Bulldogs, was among the most-watched programs. (Image credit: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Below is a snapshot of TV by the numbers for the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 5, showcasing the most-watched shows and networks using glass-level data from Vizio’s Inscape, and network and show TV ad impressions insights via iSpot.tv.

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).

National Football League games once again capture the most watch time, with 5.63% of total minutes watched during the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 5. Meanwhile, college football holds strong in second place as conference championships conclude the regular season.

Some additional insights about the top programming on TV:

  • Post-holiday, Good Morning America flies back up to No. 3 in our ranking (from No. 6 the previous week).
  • Returning to a normal week of activities, audiences also grew for stalwart programs like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (up from No. 8 to No. 5 week-over-week) and Friends (up from No. 9 to No. 7).
  • Chicago P.D. leaps from No. 21 to No. 10 by watch-time, with 0.53% of all minutes watched from Nov. 29-Dec. 5.
  • Beyond morning shows, news programs also bounced back week-over-week to coincide with a more typical (full-week) TV schedule; America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer & Dana Perino, America Reports with John Roberts & Sandra Smith, and ABC World News with David Muir all jumped by total minutes watched.

Also: Holiday 2021 TV Premiere Dates

Most-watched shows on TV by percent share duration Nov. 29-Dec. 5

CBS vaults up to the most-watched network for the week, with 8.82% of watch-time (up from 8.36% the previous week). While the NFL was part of that boost, CBS’s airing of Saturday’s SEC Championship Game between the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide was also key in getting audiences tuned in.

More insights around the most-watched networks from Nov. 29-Dec. 5:

  • A week removed from the last full weekend of college football action, ESPN goes from No. 5 by watch-time to No. 7 (though the network still aired the MAC and Sun Belt championship games on Saturday).
  • Freeform’s parade of classic Christmas movies helped fuel a climb from No. 24 to No. 12 by minutes watched week-over-week.
  • TNT rises from No. 27 to No. 20 by watch-time thanks in part to two marquee National Basketball Association matchups: the Brooklyn Nets vs. the New York Knicks, and the Golden State Warriors vs. the Phoenix Suns.
  • Cable news networks all grew minutes watched week-over-week, with Fox News moving from No. 7 to No. 5, CNN up from No. 16 to No. 11, and MSNBC moving from No. 22 to No. 17.

Also: Fox Is Selling 2023 Super Bowl Spots as Sports Ad Market Heats Up

Most-watched networks on TV by percent share duration Nov. 29-Dec. 5

Top Shows and Networks by TV Ad Impressions

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

While NFL TV ad impressions are understandably down compared to the week of Thanksgiving, the league’s live games still lead all programs by about 2.5 billion from Nov. 29-Dec. 5.

More data about the top programs by TV ad impressions during the week:

  • College football delivered the second-most impressions on the week as networks aired conference championship games between Friday night and Saturday.
  • NBC’s broadcast of Annie Live! is No. 24 by impressions — outpacing  the 89th Annual Christmas in Rockefeller Center special (which finished just outside the top 25 —  at No. 28).
  • The Young and the Restless is No. 5 by impressions from Nov. 29-Dec. 5, and is the only soap opera among the top 15 programs.
  • The Voice served up nearly 589 million TV ad impressions as the singing competition show narrowed to the top 10 performers.

Top shows by TV ad impressions Nov. 29-Dec. 5

CBS maintains its lead in our ad-impressions-by-network ranking for Nov. 29-Dec. 5, as a result of NFL action and the SEC Championship Game (the latter game deciding the No. 1 seed in the upcoming College Football Playoff), which combined to account for nearly 40% of the network’s impressions for the week.

Additional insights around the top networks by impressions from the week:

  • ABC airing four separate college football conference championship games (Pac-12, Big 12, American, ACC) assisted with a week-over-week impressions increase of nearly 18% for the network.
  • Bravo climbs from No. 24 to No. 18 week-over-week via its typical raft of reality television, including the return of The Real Housewives of Orange County (which brings back Heather Dubrow after a four-season hiatus).
  • On Fox, nearly 75% of TV ad impressions were delivered during football games from Nov. 29-Dec. 5, including nearly 49% during NFL games.
  • Hallmark’s A Very Merry Bridesmaid garnered the largest impressions share-of-voice on the network (among first-airing programs), with 32.6% during the week.

Top TV networks by ad impressions Nov. 29-Dec. 5

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