First Week Of New TV Broadcast Season: Down 20% In L7 Ratings Versus 2019

The first week of the current 2021-2022 TV season showed Nielsen-measured viewing improvements over last season. Much of this was due to pandemic-related production delays.

This year is still well behind the 2019-2020 TV season.

The top five English-language broadcast networks’ prime-time shows are down 20% on average to 5.1 million viewers when looking at Nielsen-measured live program-plus-seven days of time-shifted viewing (L7) versus the same week in 2019.

Taking out all sports programming -- just analyzing scripted/unscripted entertainment TV series -- brought that down to 4.8 million, a 19% drop from two years ago.

In 2019, the first week yielded an average 6.4 million viewers through seven days of prime-time programming and 5.9 million for non-sports entertainment programming.

Some 17 entertainment shows topped 10 million or more viewers in 2019. The leading show was CBS' “NCIS” at 16.9 million viewers.



This year, there were just six shows topping the 10 million mark. CBS’ “NCIS” is once again the best -- but at 12.5 million viewers. Second best this season is also a CBS show -- “FBI” -- at 10.5 million.

NBC’s best came from two Chicago-themed dramas -- “Chicago PD” and “Chicago Med” -- at 10.5 million and 10.2 million, respectively.

Fox’s top honors go to “911” (8.8 million) and “The Masked Singer” (6.9 million). ABC scored with “Dancing with the Stars (6.8 million) and “The Rookie” (6.5 million). The CW had “Coroner” (1.05 million) and “Supergirl” (910,000).

In 2020, the first week of the season -- September 21-27 -- had English-language broadcast networks averaging 3.9 million L7 viewers per all prime-time series.

Returning and new TV series were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many networks shifted some summer programming into the period.

1 comment about "First Week Of New TV Broadcast Season: Down 20% In L7 Ratings Versus 2019".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 6, 2021 at 9:12 a.m.

    Wayne, the real issue where national advertisers are concerned is not how individual shows are trending relative to past seasons---even "top rated" programs----but, rather whether they are still able to attain the reach levels they planned on for schedules placed in many shows on many networks, cable channels and nationally syndicated shows.  For example, if a brand got 400 GRPs per month in 2019, it might have expected a reach of around 60% with additional consumers being exposed over longer periods of time. That brand can still buy 400 GRPs today---though it will cost more. But will its schedule still reach  roughly 60% per month and more in a quarter? If the answer is yes, or there is only a slight decline in reach---say a few percentage points monthly---then there's no need to panic, though continued monitoring is called for. If, however, the four-week reach for a typical 400 GRP buy properly dispersed has declined to 50% that's when serious alternatives or rethinking about the media mix should be initiated.

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