TV By the Numbers: NBA Playoffs Rule Watch-Time, TV Ad Impressions Once Again

Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers drives against Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals at Staples Center on June 30, 2021 in Los Angeles
Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers drives against Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals at Staples Center on June 30, 2021 in Los Angeles (Image credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

Below is our snapshot of TV by the numbers for the week of June 28-July 4, shining 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).

Heated Eastern and Western Conference Finals series mean that the NBA Playoffs once again lead by minutes watched on TV. During the week of June 28-July 4, the NBA stayed in first place with 1.86% of watch-time. While that’s down from 2.1% of minutes watched the week prior, the week also features fewer total games by comparison.

Audiences are also hooked on watching other sporting events on TV, too. The 2021 Wimbledon Championships are third this week with 0.93% of minutes watched, followed closely by MLB games at 0.89%. Knockout round matchups have the 2020 European Championships (soccer) remaining in sixth with 0.82% of watch-time. The 2021 Stanley Cup Final notably rounds out the top 25 shows, with 0.42% of minutes watched as the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning battle it out.

Summer also appears to involve tuning in to syndicated fare for a lot of viewers. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit reruns make up 1.00% of minutes watched on TV, while Chicago P.D. is No. 8 with 0.75% and Chicago Fire is No. 10 with 0.60%. Friends is No. 9 at 0.66% of watch-time, and MTV air-time juggernaut Ridiculousness jumps from No. 16 to No. 12 on the week, with 0.58% of minutes watched.

Also Read: ESPN Finishes NBA Playoffs Coverage on High Note

The aforementioned Chicago Fire is one of the weeks’ top newcomers to not appear in the top 50, along with Wimbledon matches and Paramount Network’s Yellowstone. HGTV’s Home Town also moves up, from No. 35 to No. 16, while NCIS migrates from No. 32 to No. 18.

Most-watched shows on TV by percent duration June 28-July 4

NBC claims a third consecutive week leading the watch-time ranking, at 5.86% of minutes watched. ABC isn’t too far behind at 5.75%, followed by CBS (5.47%) and Fox News Channel (4.13%). Week-over-week, the top six networks stay exactly the same, in order, with ESPN (3.60% of watch-time) and Fox (3.49%) occupying the fifth and sixth positions, respectively. Immediately below that group, TNT and HGTV swap places, with the former moving up to seventh and HGTV settling in at eighth.

With kids home from school, Nickelodeon climbs from 16th to 14th, at 1.52% of minutes watched. Discovery Channel is No. 25 with 1.09% of watch-time.

Most-watched networks on TV by percent duration June 28-July 4

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’s conference finals concluded by delivering the most TV ad impressions once again. NBA Playoff games had over 1.84 billion TV ad impressions from June 28-July 4, which is nearly two times the total for the No. 2 show: Good Morning America (988 million on the week). Today sits in third with 786 million TV ad impressions, followed by The Young and the Restless (722 million) and Major League Baseball games (668 million) to round out the top five.

PGA Tour golf moves up a spot to 10th this week, while Wimbledon and the Stanley Cup Final are newcomers among the top 15 shows by TV ad impressions. The conclusion of the College World Series winds up at 18th, hitting it out of the park despite losing a game or two due to COVID protocols.

Reality TV typically isn’t a fixture among the top shows by impressions, but America’s Got Talent is 15th with 398 million and The Bachelorette now sits at No. 25 with 329 million.

Top shows by TV ad impressions June 28-July 4

NBC and ABC flip-flop once again, as the former is No. 1 in this week’s ad-impressions-by-network ranking. NBC arrives at the top spot by way of news and the aforementioned America’s Got Talent. ABC similarly banks on news, along with The Bachelorette, before becoming the home of the NBA Finals for the coming week. 

Following the top two spots, CBS is No. 3 with 4.2 billion TV ad impressions, then Fox News is No. 4 with 3.9 billion, while CNN is fifth at 2.3 billion. TNT and ESPN2 both tack on more impressions week-over-week by way of major sports programming. CNN’s total also climbs by about 10% compared to the prior week.

Spanish language sports channel TUDN and The Weather Channel are both week-over-week newcomers to the ranking, appearing in 24th and 25th place, respectively. UniMás shifts up two spots from No. 24 to No. 22. And Golf Channel leaps from No. 20 to No. 16. 

Top networks by TV ad impressions June 28-July 4

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