TV By the Numbers: NBC, Olympics Run Away With Impressions, Watch-Time Lead

Athletes compete in the Women's Marathon Final on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Sapporo Odori Park on Aug. 7, 2021 in Sapporo, Japan.
(Image credit: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

The following is a snapshot of TV by the numbers for the week of Aug. 2-8, highlighting 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).

Once again, it’s the Summer Olympics taking first place in terms of minutes watched on TV. During the week of Aug. 2-8, the Games accounted for 13.34% of watch-time, as fans watched Team USA come from behind to win the most gold medals in Tokyo.

The Olympics aren’t the only sports programming that’s been getting audiences to tune in, either, with five of the top eight shows by minutes watched winding up sports-related. Major League Baseball is No. 4 with 0.74% of watch-time, while PGA Tour golf is No. 5 with 0.61%. The NFL returns for preseason action to take 0.55% of minutes watched (No. 7 overall), while SportsCenter is No. 8 with 0.50%.

Longtime TV stalwarts continue to grab viewer attention as well. Friends is sixth by watch-time at 0.59%, while The Golden Girls is 10th with 0.48%. Gunsmoke, the 1950s-’60s Western, remains a fixture, sitting in 12th place.

After an Olympic week off, PGA Tour golf is the biggest mover of the week, leaping back into the top 50 all the way up to fifth. Additionally, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives shoots up from 34th by minutes watched to 13th, while Law & Order: Special Victims Unit moves from 37th to 24th.

Also Read: NBCU Claims Tokyo Olympics Have Generated 100 Billion Minutes of Viewing

Most-watched shows on TV by percent share duration Aug. 2-8

Buoyed by the Olympics once more, NBC races out to the top of the watch-time ranking by network, with 12.17% of minutes watched from Aug. 2-8. The next five spots all stay the same from the week of July 26-Aug. 1 as well. CBS is No. 2 with 5.3% of watch-time, followed by ABC (5.04%), Fox News Channel (3.88%), Fox (3.61%) and USA Network (2.41%).

Elsewhere, IFC leaps into the top 10 by minutes watched, with 1.77% for the week. Food Network rises from No. 19 to No. 15, while Bravo completes the ranking at No. 25 (up from No. 29), earning 1.00% of all watch-time on TV.

Most-watched networks on TV by percent share duration Aug. 2-8

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 Olympics conclude with the most TV ad impressions for yet another week. From Aug. 2-8, the Tokyo Games led all programming with 11.4 billion impressions, which is nearly 13 times more than the impressions of No. 2 show Good Morning America (899 million).

Past the top two, it’s still a big week for sports. Major League Baseball is No. 6 by TV ad impressions with 616 million, while the NFL preseason nets 586 million to finish seventh — on just a single game, no less, between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. SportsCenter is No. 11 with 505 million TV ad impressions, and the PGA Tour returns in 14th place with 474 million.

TV shows by TV ad impressions Aug. 2-8

NBC coasts to the top of the week’s ad-impressions-by-network ranking, with 11.3 billion from Aug. 2-8. The network’s extended stay at No. 1 primarily comes courtesy of the Olympics, which wrapped up an exciting few weeks of coverage with a Team USA win.

In the places below, however, there are some shake-ups. CBS moves up from third to second in part due to daytime soap operas and reality TV (four of the top five CBS shows on the week by impressions fall into one of those two buckets). Fox News also jumps up a spot to third, followed by ABC in fourth and MSNBC in fifth.

The NFL’s single preseason game also helps Fox fly up the rankings, from No. 21 during the week of July 26 to Aug. 1, to No. 12 with over 900 million TV ad impressions. Galavision comes in at No. 25 for the week, with over 206 million TV ad impressions.

TV networks by TV ad impressions Aug. 2-8

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