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TV By the Numbers: NBC Takes Weekly Watch-Time, While CBS Wins Impressions Battle

Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens dives into the end zone for a touchdown past the tackle of Michael Danna #51 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 19, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.
(Image credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Below is a snapshot of TV by the numbers for the week of Sept. 20-26, shining a spotlight on the most-watched shows and networks using glass-level data from Vizio’s Inscape, and 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).

Week three NFL action leads to another watch-time win, as NFL games made up 5.65% of all minutes watched on TV during the week of Sept. 20-26.

College football is once again No. 2, with 3.43% of watch-time during the time period, while golf’s Ryder Cup is No. 3 at 1.79%. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (0.92%) and Good Morning America (0.83%) round out the top five for the week.

With the regular season coming to a close, Major League Baseball owns 0.72% of watch-time — sixth among all programming. SportsCenter is No. 10 at 0.61% of minutes watched, while NFL RedZone continues to increase its share of watch-time, jumping from No. 24 to No. 16 week-over-week as fans tune in to keep an eye on each day’s big scoring plays for fantasy football purposes.

The Ryder Cup is the fastest rising programming for Sept. 20-26, placing third by watch-time after not appearing on TV the previous week. The Voice (No. 11) and Live From the Ryder Cup (No. 24) are also newcomers to this week’s top 25. Chicago Fire also jumps into the top 25 at No. 23 following its season premiere.

Also Read: Fall 2021 Premiere Dates

Most-watched shows on TV by percent share duration Sept. 20-26

NBC and CBS flip-flop for the week, and NBC moves up to No. 1 with 8.78% of minutes watched, thanks to Sunday Night Football and its fall primetime slate (the return of The Voice, in particular). CBS winds up at No. 2 for the week of Sept. 20-26, with 6.88% of watch-time due in large part to football (NFL and college), plus some of its own primetime shows returning. Fox is No. 3 on the week with 6.38% of minutes watched, followed by ABC (6.07%) and Fox News (4.36%). 

Week-over-week, Golf Channel is the biggest riser, rocketing up from outside the top 50 networks to No. 24 with 1.00% of watch-time from Sept. 20-26 thanks to the Ryder Cup. Discovery moves from No. 27 to No. 22 on the week, while Univision moves up three spots, from No. 17 to No. 14, and Nickelodeon rises from No. 19 to No. 17.

TV Land sits at No. 25, earning 0.98% of minutes watched during the time period.

Most-watched networks on TV by percent share duration Sept. 20-26

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. 

Live NFL games served up more than 5.9 billion TV ad impressions for the week of Sept. 20-26, once again surpassing all other programming. College football is second once again during the timeframe, with 4.2 billion. The 2020 Ryder Cup (delayed a year due to the pandemic) is No. 3 (1.4 billion TV ad impressions), followed by Good Morning America (835 million) and The Price Is Right (796 million).

The Voice follows closely behind, with 795 million impressions (sixth overall) during its season premiere, while fellow reality TV stalwart Big Brother is 18th with 457 million. 

News- and talk-related programming remains a major aspect of these weekly rankings. From Sept. 20-26, these shows made up more than half of the top 25 by TV ad impressions, and seven of the top 15 (eight if you count ESPN’s sports news and highlights show SportsCenter).

TV shows by TV ad impressions Sept. 20-26

CBS sits at No. 1 in this week’s ad-impressions-by-network ranking, assisted by the NFL in particular, which accounts for 11% of all live episode impressions on the network from Sept. 20-26. The network’s nearly 8.6 billion TV ad impressions are enough to stay ahead of the competition for a second straight week.

NBC is No. 2 on the week, with 8.2 billion, followed by ABC (6.0 billion), Fox News (5.3 billion) and Fox (4.5 billion). Fox, specifically, sees impressions leap by 55% week-over-week thanks in part to a Sunday NFL doubleheader in week three, college football and the season premiere of The Masked Singer.

The Ryder Cup is a big boost to both NBC and the Golf Channel this week. The (typically biennial) golf event is part of a 25% week-over-week impressions boost for NBC and a 185% increase for Golf Channel.

TV networks by TV ad impressions Sept. 20-26

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