Nielsen published top 10 lists of the most watched linear TV shows and series in 2020, as well as the programs with the biggest delayed TV lifts. Most of the titles in the charts are radio programs, whose rating periods vary from September to May according to the seasons. The ranking lists of the cable networks are based on a calendar year.
The flag for cables in the top 10 lists is carried by Yellowstone from Paramount Network and has recorded the largest percentage increase in viewership after seven days of viewing. AMC’s The Walking Dead, No. 7 on the same list; and ESPN’s coverage of the College Football Playoff National Championship.
The top 10 list of most watched TV shows (in Live + 7) is dominated by football, with only Fox ‘The Masked Singer and ABC’s The Oscars making the cut from entertainment programs.
CBS’s NCIS, FBI, and Blue Bloods were the most-watched non-sports series of 2020. Unsurprisingly, these are older dramas as Nielsen’s ratings reflect live replay and replay. Most of the younger viewers consume scripted TV shows on request through non-linear platforms.
It is worth noting that two of the three main time-shifted programs (as a percentage of viewership) are no longer airing, ABCs Emergence and Stumptown. NBC’s flagship drama This Is Us leads the absolute L + 7 audience play.
Nielsen’s report also shows that video streaming has exploded during the pandemic, while linear viewing has also made some gains. Live and time-delayed TV consumption in the second quarter of 2020 among people aged 18 and over increased by an average of 4 minutes per day compared to the previous year (to 4 hours: 8 minutes). All in all, In the second quarter of this year, consumers aged 18 and over spent almost 6 hours a day with video, which corresponds to an increase of 35 minutes compared to the same period last year per Nielsen.