Prime-Time English-Language Shows Drop 21% For 2020-2021 Season

Among the top five English-language U.S. broadcast networks -- NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox and The CW -- the average prime-time viewership sank 21% to 4.35 million per program for the just-completed TV 2020-2021 TV season, looking at Nielsen-metric L7 data.

A year ago, for all prime-time shows, the average viewership per program was 5.48 million.

Taking out major prime-time sports, just six prime-time entertainment shows -- scripted/unscripted -- earned 10 million or more Nielsen-measured viewers for its live programming-plus-seven days of time-shifted viewing.

A year ago, there were 16 shows that topped more than 10 million viewers.

Conversely, 21 prime-time shows averaged less than 1 million viewers -- with 18 on the CW and three on Fox. A year ago, 14 shows averaged less than 1 million viewers -- with 12 on The CW and two on Fox.

Two of the biggest prime-time sports series -- and the biggest overall in prime time -- NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and Fox’s “Thursday Night Football” -- contributed to the declines. “SNF” was down 18% to 16.5 million, while “TNF” lost 13% to 13.4 million.



CBS had five -- the highest number of 10 million-plus shows: “NCIS,” “The Equalizer,” “FBI,” “60 Minutes” and “Blue Bloods” for the 2020-2021 TV season. NBC had one -- “Chicago Fire.” A year ago, CBS had seven shows with 10 million or more viewers, while NBC had five and ABC had one.

CBS’ “NCIS” was the most-viewed non-sports show this past year -- down 18% to 12.6 million viewers. It held the same top honor a year ago, with 15.4 million viewers.

1 comment about "Prime-Time English-Language Shows Drop 21% For 2020-2021 Season".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 11, 2021 at 9:31 a.m.

    Interesting that the overall prime time all-show findings are shown in numbers of "average commercial minute viewers"  but when sports is taken out ---as it should be---we change to the number of programs reaching the 10 million mark. Also, there's a lot of comercial zapping in prime time and the numbers shown represent only some ofthe "viewers" not all of them.

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