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TV By the Numbers: Football and Fox News Score TV Watch-Time Wins

Wide receiver Cade Johnson #88 of the Seattle Seahawks in action against the Denver Broncos during an NFL preseason game at Lumen Field on Aug. 21, 2021 in Seattle, Washington.
(Image credit: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Below is a snapshot of TV by the numbers for the week of Aug. 16-22, spotlighting 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 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).

It’s officially football season — or at least it is according to TV audiences. Even in preseason, the National Football League is leading the way by minutes watched on TV, claiming the top spot among all programming for the week of Aug.  16-22, with 2.04% of watch-time.

Other live sporting events are also present among the top five shows by minutes watched, with the 2021 Little League World Series placing third with 0.93% of watch-time and Major League Baseball in fifth with 0.78%. The rest of the top five includes Law & Order: Special Victims Unit at No. 2 and Good Morning America at No. 4, with 0.97% and 0.87% of minutes watched, respectively.

Meanwhile, coverage around the situation in Afghanistan has boosted news shows — on Fox News, in particular. America Reports with John Roberts and Sandra Smith jumps from No. 41 to No. 12 by watch-time, while Fox & Friends moves from No. 23 to No. 13, America’s Newsroom goes from No. 35 to No. 16, and Hannity closes out the top 25 programs by minutes watched despite not even appearing among the top 50 the week prior.

Those programs are the big movers for Aug. 16-22, along with The Price Is Right, which is No. 24 with 0.42% of watch-time — a three-spot leap from the previous week.

Most-watched shows on TV by percent share duration Aug. 16-22

As mentioned, Fox News shows are the biggest beneficiaries of viewer interest in what’s occurring in Afghanistan, so it stands to reason that the network’s watch-time would increase as well. Fox News migrates up to the top spot in the minutes-watched-by-network ranking, at 6.12% of watch-time from Aug. 16-22.

ABC remains in second with 5.66% of minutes watched, followed by NBC (5.60%), CBS (5.52%) and Fox (3.77%). Both CBS and Fox aired live NFL games during the week, which is an obvious boost to watch-time for any network. NFL Network, meanwhile, sits in 17th for Aug. 16-22, with 1.44% of minutes watched.

Beyond Fox News’s vault from fourth to first, CNN also jumps three spots — from ninth to sixth — on the week by watch-time.

TBS, however, actually shows the largest climb — moving up five spots, from 20th to 15th on the week.

Most-watched networks on TV by percent share duration Aug. 16-22

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. 

News programs continue to deliver a massive number of TV ad impressions as audiences focus on Afghanistan coverage and shows geared toward eliciting reactions around that coverage. But during the week of Aug. 16-22, news shows with a generally lighter story mix still managed to serve the most impressions, with Good Morning America sitting at No. 1 again with 1.01 billion. Fellow morning show Today also retains its second-place spot with 864 billion TV ad impressions.

Of the top 25 programs, 14 are news-focused — an increase from 12 during the week of Aug. 9-15. Along with the aforementioned morning shows, CBS This Morning (531 million TV ad impressions) and Fox & Friends (531 million) are the other news programs in the top 10.

Live sports also remains a fixture, though, with three of the top 10 shows by TV ad impressions. Major League Baseball sits in fourth overall with 586 million impressions, while the National Football League is eighth (523 million impressions) and the 2021 Little League World Series is ninth (517 million).

TV shows by TV ad impressions Aug. 16-22

Fox News is No. 1 yet again in this week’s ad-impressions-by-network ranking, with 5.55 billion from Aug. 16-22. NBC is No. 2 with 4.26 billion TV ad impressions, followed by ABC (4.17 billion), CBS (4.02 billion) and CNN (2.63 billion).

MLB Network TV ad impressions continue to rise as Major League Baseball gets closer to the regular season’s stretch run and playoff races start to heat up. The league’s network increases impressions by nearly 29% week-over-week. Fox Sports 1 sees some similar benefits due to baseball, with impressions jumping 34% from the week of Aug. 9-15 to the week of Aug. 16-22.

TV networks by TV ad impressions Aug. 16-22