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TV By the Numbers: College Football Kicks Off New Year With a Bang

Quarterback Bryce Young of the Alabama Crimson Tide is chased out of the pocket by Ahmad Gardner of the Cincinnati Bearcats during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic for the College Football Playoff semifinal game on December 31, 2021 in Arlington, Texas.
(Image credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Below is a snapshot of TV by the numbers for the week of December 27-January 2, 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).

As the new year starts, college football takes its place in the spotlight on TV. The sport leads the way by watch-time compared to other TV programming, while individual College Football Playoff games (the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl) also rocket toward wins for minutes watched, despite lopsided on-field results.

Some additional insights about the top programming on TV:

  • ESPN’s wall-to-wall coverage of college football’s biggest games means five of the top 12 programs by watch-time were related to college football.
  • Family Guy marathons on Disney-owned FXX led to a leap from No. 40 to No. 8 by minutes watched week-over-week.
  • Yellowstone’s season finale fueled a climb to No. 20 by watch-time (versus No. 46 the previous week).
  • Lifetime scored with Castle re-airs, accounting for 0.55% of minutes watched on TV from December 27-January 2.

Most-watched shows on TV by percent share duration December 27-January 2

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day college football action fueled ESPN’s rise to No. 1 as the most-watched network of the week. The cable sports giant gobbled up nearly 10.2% of watch-time thanks in large part to its exclusive airing of the “New Year’s Six” bowl games.

More insights around the most-watched networks from December 27-January 2:

  • Paramount Network rockets up to No. 10 by watch-time on the week thanks to Yellowstone’s much-buzzed-about season finale.
  • Hallmark Channel shows staying power even after Christmas, sitting at No. 7 by minutes watched from December 27-January 2 (versus No. 6 the previous week).
  • HGTV soars to No. 9 by watch-time on the week, as the new year inspires a focus on new projects around the house.
  • Comedy Central cashed in on The Office re-airs to climb from No. 38 to to No. 25 week-over-week by minutes watched.

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

Most-watched networks on TV by percent share duration December 27-January 2.

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. 

College football hurdles into first-place on the week, with over 8.1 billion TV ad impressions delivered from December 27-January 2, largely attributable to the College Football Playoff and other premier bowl games during the week.

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

  • For the first time since the regular season started, the NFL dips to No. 2 by impressions — though still accounts for nearly 5 billion on the week.
  • New Year’s Eve programming delivered impressions across a variety of networks, including three different entries among the top 25 in our rankings.
  • Football (college and NFL) also served up impressions away from the primary airings; three alternative viewings around college football bowl games combined for nearly 2 billion TV ad impressions, while Fox’s NFL postgame show, The OT, contributed nearly 330 million impressions.
  • Day-time soap operas provided large impressions numbers even during the holidays, with three (The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, General Hospital) appearing among the top 25 by impressions this week.

Top shows by TV ad impressions December 27-January 2

Despite various simulcasts around the College Football Playoff, ESPN still leads the way in our ad-impressions-by-network ranking for December 27-January 2, with over 8.6 billion.

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

  • Speaking of simulcasts, ESPN’s other networks were beneficiaries, with ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNEWS all appearing among the top 15 networks by TV ad impressions after airing alternative feeds from the weekend’s biggest college football bowl games.
  • Paramount Network sits at No. 16 by impressions courtesy of, yes, Yellowstone’s season finale.
  • With winter storms looming, Weather Channel slings up to No. 18 by TV ad impressions on the week.
  • While the NFL led the way for CBS, with over 20% of impressions, the network’s Nashville-based New Year’s Eve special accounted for 10% of CBS’s impressions for the week.

Top TV networks by ad impressions December 27-January 2.