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TV By the Numbers: Wild Card Week, and a Wild Week for News

Trump supporters take the steps on the east side of the US Capitol building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.
(Image credit: Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

This is a quick snapshot of TV by the numbers for the week of Jan. 4-10, 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

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).

NFL games continue to capture the most minutes watched, up to 9.97% from the previous week’s 5.11%, thanks to a super-charged Wild Card Weekend with six nationally televised games. And due to the historic events that unfolded on Capitol Hill last week, many news programs jumped up the ranking. CNN’s coverage of the election certification (which then turned into broader coverage of the Capitol Hill events on Wednesday afternoon) and Georgia Senate runoffs were second and third, respectively. Of the top 25 programs, only six were not sports or news related.

Also Read: Networks Hustle to Cover Capitol Coup

Most-watched shows on TV by percent share duration Jan. 4-10, 2021

On the network side of things, NBC and CBS both moved up the ranking with help from NFL games and news coverage, while cable news networks CNN, Fox News and MSNBC also rose up. The only networks to maintain their positions week-over-week were Fox, HGTV, Investigation Discovery and Food Network. With some help from a marathon of Hawaii Five-0, ION moved into No. 19 from No. 25. (Hawaii Five-0 was also the most-binged timeshifted show of the weekend.)

Most-watched networks on TV by percent share duration Jan. 4-10, 2021

Inscape also shared a deeper look at cable news viewership during the Capitol Hill events on Jan. 6. CNN was No. 1 for live tune-in throughout the afternoon, with rising viewership that peaked right after 4 p.m. ET, as did Fox News; MSNBC viewership was highest closer to 4:30 p.m.

Network tune-in for the Capitol Hill insurrection Jan. 6

CNN viewing of the Capitol Hill insurrection Jan. 6

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. 

TV ad impressions for NFL games were up 80% week-over-week to 12.7 billion, thanks to the Wild Card games, dwarfing other programs on the ranking. NBA and college basketball both made the top five, in third and fourth places, respectively. Multiple CNN programs made the ranking as well. Also notable: The season 25 premiere of The Bachelor on ABC, which generated 346.9 million impressions putting it at No. 21. There were only four non-sports or news programs in the ranking.

Top shows by TV ad impressions Jan. 4-10, 2021

CBS and NBC led the network ranking, with NFL games accounting for about half of each’s total impressions for the week. With 6.5 billion impressions, CNN took third place, followed by ABC (6.3 billion) and Fox News (3.5 billion). MSNBC saw a notable 73% week-over-week increase in impressions as well, up to 2.7 billion, beating out Fox’s 2.5 billion. One ranking newcomer was Freeform (216.3 million impressions), thanks in part to the NFL Wild Card MegaCast that aired across various Disney-owned networks.

Top networks by TV ad impressions Jan. 4-10, 2021