The Season To Date: NFL Rises In Prime, Top Entertainment Shows Sink

Even after ramping up normal TV production this year versus the pandemic-disrupted 2020-2021 TV season, top broadcast TV networks entertainment/non-sports prime-time shows continue to show steady declines in linear TV airings.

The top 10 shows in prime time this year season-to-date (September 21 to December 12) averaged 9.7 million viewers, down 10% from the 10.8 million-viewer mark for the same period in the 2020-2021 season, according to Nielsen live program-plus-seven-day time-shifted viewing metric.

Looking at all TV broadcast network programming, including sports, the average prime-time series was down 5% to 4.75 million for the first three months of the season against 4.98 million a year ago.

The top two overall prime-time series -- NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and Fox/NFL Network’s “Thursday Night Football” -- posted increases versus a year ago -- 17.7 million viewers (16.3 million in 2020) and 14.9 million viewers (13.2 million), respectively.

This year, just one -- CBS’ “NCIS” -- was over the 10 million viewers' mark for the first three months of the season. A year ago, there were eight shows exceeding that level.

The longtime CBS drama is averaging 11.4 million Nielsen viewers, down from 12.9 million a year ago.

This year, CBS’ “FBI” is the second-best for prime-time entertainment series, with 9.97 million viewers.

The next eight shows -- NBC’s “Chicago Fire” at 9.95 million; CBS “Blue Bloods,” 9.74 million; CBS’ “60 Minutes,” 9.71 million; CBS’ “The Equalizer,” 9.67 million; NBC’s “Chicago PD,” 9.3 million; NBC’s “Chicago Med,” 9.2 million; CBS’ “Young Sheldon,” 9.1 million; and CBS’ “FBI: Most Wanted” -- with 8.7 million.

1 comment about "The Season To Date: NFL Rises In Prime, Top Entertainment Shows Sink".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 28, 2021 at 11:46 a.m.

    Wayne---a small  point. Unless I'm mistaken, these stats do not tell us how many people watched any of the prime time shows---only how many supposedly watched an average commercial minute in the shows. The real program audience is probably double the cited figure when you add back commercial zappers and those who watched at least five minutes of the content---as opposed to the average minute calculation. Given that, a 5% decline year to year is hardly a sign of massive defections to other sources of program content---namely streaming---which is also evident in Nielsen's "Guage" reports. These show streaming locked in at a 28 share of total "TV" time since last spring.

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