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TV By the Numbers: Week One NFL Action Touts Watch-Time, Impressions Leads

Amari Cooper #19 of the Dallas Cowboys catches a touchdown pass against Ross Cockrell #43 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium on Sept. 9, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
(Image credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Below, you’ll find a snapshot of TV by the numbers for the week of Sept. 6-12, 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 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).

Week one of the NFL's regular season results in a predictable appearance as the No. 1 programming for watch-time. With games on Thursday night and Sunday, the NFL made up 6.58% of all minutes watched on TV during the week of Sept. 6-12.

That means college football drops one spot to No. 2, with 3.81% of watch-time during the time period. The 2021 U.S. Open (tennis) sits at No. 3, serving up 1.04% of minutes watched. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (0.99%) and Good Morning America (0.73%) close out the top five.

While sports sits at the top, police procedurals are also a fixture in the top 25. Beyond Law & Order: SVU at No. 3, Chicago P.D. is No. 10, NCIS: New Orleans is No. 12, NCIS is No. 13 and Blue Bloods is No. 25. 

Love It or List It and Home Town are the two shows that make leaps into the top 25 most-watched shows from Sept. 6-12 after not appearing among the top 50 the previous week. Chicago Fire also jumps — all the way from No. 40 to No. 11 this week, with 0.50% of watch-time.

Most-watched shows on TV by percent share duration Sept. 6-12

NBC charges to the top spot by watch-time for the week of Sept. 6-12, with 8.41% of minutes watched. While the network didn’t air Notre Dame’s home football game on Saturday (that was sent to Peacock), NBC had two primetime NFL games for opening weekend — Thursday’s matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys, and Sunday’s Los Angeles Rams vs. Chicago Bears contest.

CBS is No. 2 by watch-time for the week, with 6.66% of minutes watched, followed by Fox at No. 3 with 5.88%. Both networks air afternoon NFL games on Sundays, and college football games on Saturdays as well. ABC is No. 4 for minutes watched, at 5.86%, drafting off of college football, Good Morning America and Bachelor in Paradise, among other programs. Fox News is No. 5, with 4.24% of watch-time.

USA Network rises from No. 14 to No. 11 by minutes watched, thanks in part to WWE Monday Night Raw. Lifetime closes out the top 25 networks for the week, with 0.97% of minutes watched.

Most-watched networks on TV by percent share duration Sept. 6-12

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. 

The hope of a new season brings TV ad impressions in droves for NFL games. During the week of Sept. 6-12, the NFL delivered almost 7.6 billion impressions between the Thursday night game and Sunday’s slate (an average of nearly 507 million TV ad impressions per live game). 

Sticking with pigskin, college football is No. 2 on the week with 4.2 billion impressions, followed by Good Morning America (839 million), The Young and the Restless (736 million) and Today (753 million). 

Even given the influx of live sports recently, reality TV also continues to hold strong as a major source of impressions. With four hours of programming over two nights, Bachelor in Paradise is all the way up to No. 6 by impressions, while Big Brother is close behind at No. 7, and America’s Got Talent is No. 13.

TV shows by TV ad impressions Sept. 6-12

NBC’s two primetime NFL games propel it to the No. 1 spot in this week’s ad-impressions-by-network ranking, with 7.65 billion from Sept. 6-12. Almost 42% of NBC’s impressions on the week are due to those two games.

CBS is second for the week, with 6.81 billion TV ad impressions, followed by No. 3 ABC (5.70 billion), No. 4 Fox News (4.72 billion) and No. 5 Fox (4.20 billion). Over 73% of impressions for Fox were delivered by either pro or college football. Meanwhile, NBC, CBS and Fox all owe similar percentages of impressions — between 41 and 42% — to the NFL.

ESPN sees its own boost thanks to college football and the U.S. Open, as impressions increase about 10% week-over-week. ESPN2 and Fox Sports 1 also see college football-related jumps during week two of the season, with the former climbing by 16% week-over-week, and the latter 14%.

CNBC is the No. 25 network in the weekly TV ad impressions ranking, with almost 261 million from Sept. 6-12.

TV networks by TV ad impressions Sept. 6-12