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TV By the Numbers, Jan. 18-24: Sports, Inauguration Coverage Win for Watch-Time

Fireworks display over the National Mall at the conclusion of the "Celebrating America" event at the Lincoln Memorial after the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States in Washington, DC, Jan. 20, 2021.
Fireworks over the National Mall at the conclusion of the "Celebrating America" event after the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States in Washington, DC, Jan. 20, 2021. (Image credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)

This is a quick snapshot of TV by the numbers for the week of Jan. 18-24, revealing 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 Vizio’s Inscape, the TV data company with 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).

NFL games continue to grab the most watch-time (5.62%), while both college and NBA basketball moved up the ranking into third and fourth places, respectively. Inauguration coverage on various networks also engaged viewers, and the simulcast inauguration night event “Celebrating America” took No. 15 on the chart with 0.51% of all live, linear minutes watched last week. Friends and SportsCenter kept their same rankings week-over-week (No. 13 and 14, respectively), while a few news programs from ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox News all moved up the chart.

Most-watched shows on TV by percent share duration Jan. 18-24, 2021

With an assist from NFL games, CBS rose into first place for networks, capturing 8.41% of watch-time. NBA basketball helped TNT move up the ranking from No. 15 the previous week to No. 11 this time, with 1.67% of all live, linear minutes watched. Additional networks that moved up week-over-week included USA Network, TBS, ION, CW and Lifetime. Notably, Lifetime is the only new network in the top 25 this time (it was No. 27 the previous week). Reruns of Rizzoli & Isles, plus new episodes of Married at First Sight and the premiere of biopic Salt-N-Pepa all helped move Lifetime up the chart.

Most-watched networks on TV by percent share duration Jan. 18-24, 2021

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. 

NFL football, NBA and college basketball led the ranking and were the only programs to generate over one billion TV ad impressions during the week. Although NFL games received fewer impressions than the previous week, both NBA and college basketball games upped their impressions week-over-week as the seasons heat up. Aside from the normal news programs that consistently make the top 25, a few notable shows this time include CBS’ FBI, which was No. 8 with 545.8 million impressions — 10 million more than the inauguration special Celebrating America, which took ninth place. The Bachelor and NCIS also made the cut, at No. 20 and No. 22, respectively.

Top shows by TV ad impressions Jan. 18-24, 2021

CBS maintained its first place position and saw a 14% week-over-week increase in TV ad impressions, fueled primarily by NFL games — but it’s worth noting that FBI was the second largest driver of impressions for the network. While Spanish-language networks Telemundo and Univision have consistently held spots in the middle of the ranking, last week UniMas jumped up, thanks in part to new episodes of Enamorándonos, a live matchmaking series. Golf was another ranking entrant that we haven’t seen in a while. It came in at No. 25 with 282.9 million impressions and brings the total number of sports-focused networks on the ranking to six.

Top networks by TV ad impressions Jan. 18-24, 2021