2019-20: TV Time-Shifted Viewing Holds Steady, Average Viewing Per Show Declines

Although time-shifted viewing for traditional TV networks continues to show slight growth for the current TV season, viewing for the average prime-time non-sports show among the five major broadcast networks has declined.

Analyzing 98 entertainment/news/unscripted show listings, the average total viewership of an individual prime-time series has dropped 14% to 5.6 million (from 6.5 million a year ago), looking at Nielsen’s live program-plus-seven days (L7) of time-shifted data from Sept. 23 though Dec. 8th.

Fewer prime-time shows are topping the 10 million mark this season -- 13 network shows for the fourth quarter this year, looking at Nielsen’s L7 metric, versus 24 shows a year ago.

The top three non-sports prime-time shows, looking at Nielsen’s L7 metric this year, are: CBS’s “NCIS” (15.3 million), CBS’s “FBI” (12.2 million), and NBC’s “This Is Us” (11.9 million).



On average, all TV network shows -- scripted and unscripted --  grew in terms of total viewer audience at 47% (averaging 1.7 million viewers, 98 shows) in Nielsen L7, using its live program-same day measure.

Compared to the same period a year ago, percentage gains through seven days were at 45% (1.9 million, 98 shows).

By way of comparison, only two network shows this year -- “NCIS” and “60 Minutes” -- posted more than 10 million viewers with 11.4 million and 10.5 million, respectively, when analyzing Nielsen live program-plus same-day time-shifted viewing.

In terms of pure total viewer gains, TV network dramas dominated with substantial additional gains: ABC’s “The Good Doctor” with 5.1 million, NBC’s “This Is Us,” 4.7 million, NBC’s “New Amsterdam,” 4.6 million, CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” 4.3 million; CBS’ “Bull,” 4.3 million; and NBC’s Chicago PD” 4.1 million.

Four ABC one-hour dramas -- “The Rookie” (7.6 million total viewers) “Emergence” (6.3 million), “Stumptown” (6.7 million) and “The Good Doctor” (10.9 million) --  posted some of the best overall percentage for time-shifted network TV gains through seven days -- rising 90% to 100% for the initial two-and-a-half weeks of original airings for the 2019-2020 TV season.

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