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TV By the Numbers: Preseason NFL Games Score Watch-Time Win on TV

Brontae Harris #35 of the Los Angeles Rams tackles Tyron Johnson #83 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the first quarter during the preseason game at SoFi Stadium on Aug. 14, 2021 in Inglewood, California.
(Image credit: Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Included below is a snapshot of TV by the numbers for the week of Aug. 9-15, detailing 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 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).

With the Olympics wrapped up, TV audiences have turned the page to the next major sporting event on the calendar: fall football. While it’s still just preseason for the NFL, the league already leads the way in terms of minutes watched on TV. For the week of Aug. 9-15, NFL games claim the top spot among all programming, with 1.66% of watch-time.

Football isn’t the only sport that’s top-of-mind for audiences, either. Major League Baseball is second by minutes watched with 0.97% on the week, and Little League Baseball — in the lead-up to the annual Little League World Series — is third, at 0.96%. NBA Summer League action (0.48% of watch-time) and PGA Tour Golf (0.45%) are the other live sports to appear in the week’s ranking.

Crime-related shows are also all over the minutes-watched ranking. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is fifth with 0.86% of watch-time, NCIS is No. 7, Chicago P.D. is No. 9 and NCIS: New Orleans is No. 10. The First 48 and Law & Order appear as well, at No. 15 and No. 22, respectively. 

Little League Baseball, America’s Got Talent and NBA Summer League all appear among the top 25 for watch-time this week after not being included among the top 50 for the week of Aug. 2-8. Love It or List It closes out the top 25 with 0.41% of minutes watched after being No. 30 the previous week.

Most-watched shows on TV by percent share duration Aug. 9-15

Even without the Olympics, NBC still manages to hold onto the top spot in the watch-time ranking by network, at 6.14% of minutes watched from Aug. 9-15. ABC moves up one spot to No. 2 with 5.78% of watch-time, while CBS is No. 3 with 5.65%. Fox News and Fox remain in fourth and fifth, respectively, after landing in the same spots the previous week.

Baseball (both MLB and Little League) powers ESPN’s jump from No. 14 to No. 8 by minutes watched, and preseason games score for NFL Network as it charges all the way up to No. 19 after not appearing among the top 50 networks from Aug. 2-8. Disney Channel closes out the top 25 networks by watch-time this week, with 1.09% of minutes watched.

Most-watched networks on TV by percent share duration Aug. 9-15.

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. 

Following weeks of Olympics dominance, a new program was guaranteed to have the most TV ad impressions for the week of Aug. 9-15. That program wound up being Good Morning America, which racked up 1.02 billion impressions to take the top spot. Fellow morning show Today is No. 2 with 821 million TV ad impressions.

Even without the Olympics, though, live sports still deliver plenty of impressions. Major League Baseball is fourth overall with 712 million, NFL preseason games are 15th with 436 million, and Little League Baseball is 17th with 413 million. PGA Tour golf finishes 23rd on the week with 357 TV ad impressions.

Reality TV also makes a big splash with four of the top 12 programs by TV ad impressions delivered. The Bachelorette leads the way among reality shows with 513 million during its fiery three-hour season finale. America’s Got Talent (482 million), Love Island (466 million) and Big Brother (463 million) are close behind.

TV shows by TV ad impressions Aug. 9-15

Fox News is the new No. 1 in this week’s ad-impressions-by-network ranking, with 4.46 billion from Aug. 9-15. It just edges out NBC at No. 2, with 4.35 billion TV ad impressions. CBS (4.33 billion), ABC (4.29 billion) and MSNBC (2.44 billion) round out the top five amid increased news coverage around the situation in Afghanistan.

NFL Network TV ad impressions increased by over four times week-over-week on the strength of more preseason NFL games. Meanwhile, ESPN added about two billion impressions compared to the previous week based on more baseball (same for ESPN2, which nearly doubled impressions compared to Aug. 2-8).

TV networks by TV ad impressions Aug. 9-15