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TV By the Numbers: NFL, College Football Bowl Games Dominate Week of Dec. 28

Myles Gaskin #37 of the Miami Dolphins is tackled by Dane Jackson #30 of the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium on Jan. 3, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York.
Myles Gaskin #37 of the Miami Dolphins is tackled by Dane Jackson #30 of the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium on Jan. 3, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Image credit: Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

This is a quick snapshot of TV by the numbers for the week of Dec. 28, 2020 through Jan. 3, 2021, 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).

Although NFL games remained No. 1 (5.11%) for watch-time as they have for weeks on end, college football bowl games captured numerous spots in the top 25 ranking. Also notable is the appearance of Las Vegas at No. 10 with 0.63% of all minutes watched, thanks to marathons on E! (it was also the sixth most binged time-shifted show for the week). Additionally, The First 48 jumped into the ranking at No. 24 with 0.40%, thanks to marathons on A&E, suggesting the network is aiming to get fans amped up for the new season, which premieres on Jan. 7.

Also Read: CBS, NFL Top 2020 By Ad Impressions

Most-watched shows on TV by percent share duration Dec. 28, 2020-Jan. 3, 2021

Most-watched shows on TV by percent share duration Dec. 28, 2020-Jan. 3, 2021

Fueled by college football and its bowl games over the new year holiday, ESPN snagged first place on the network ranking with 7.79% of minutes watched. While there were no ranking changes for second through fourth places — and Hallmark Channel stayed solid at No. 8 — the rest of the chart is notably different from what we’ve seen in the past, with many networks jostling into new positions. The CW, Bravo and ION were new entrants compared to the previous week, while AMC had one of the larger declines, going from No. 16 last week to No. 23 this time.

Most-watched networks on TV by percent share duration Dec. 28, 2020-Jan. 3, 2021

Most-watched networks on TV by percent share duration Dec. 28, 2020-Jan. 3, 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. 

College football squeaked past NFL games last week to snag the No. 1 spot for TV ad impressions, 7.6 billion vs. 7.1 billion. Three other college football-related programs rounded out the top five, pushing the usual suspects (morning news shows) down a notch for the week. The Price Is Right and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve telecasts were the only other non-sports or news programs in the top 25 — not surprising for a quiet holiday week with few of the regular staples airing new episodes.

Top shows by TV ad impressions Dec. 28, 2020-Jan. 3, 2021

Top shows by TV ad impressions Dec. 28, 2020-Jan. 3, 2021

ESPN took first place for TV ad impressions (8.9 billion), with 75% coming from college football games. With nearly 5.3 billion impressions, CBS took second with some help from NFL games and The Price Is Right. ESPNEWS rocketed into ninth place from 75th the previous week, propelled by college football and playoffs coverage. Animal Planet was another notable ranking newcomer, generating 275.8 million TV ad impressions, a third of which came from Pit Bulls & Parolees: My Favorite Moments.

Top networks by TV ad impressions Dec. 28, 2020-Jan. 3, 2021

Top networks by TV ad impressions Dec. 28, 2020-Jan. 3, 2021