Nielsen: NFL, ‘Yellowstone,’ ‘This Is Us’ Top TV Programming in 2020

Traditional linear TV may be hemorrhaging viewers and subscribers to over-the-top video, but in 2020 — especially during a pandemic — consumers continued to spend the lion’s share of their TV time with live and time-shifted programming, according to new data from Nielsen. The ratings pioneer said second-quarter 2020 live and time-shifted TV consumption among people 18 and older increased by an average of 4 minutes per day (to 4 hours, 8 minutes) from the prior year. That dwarfs the 1 hour and 14 minutes spent on TV-connected devices each day.

In the second quarter, consumers 18 and older spent just shy of 6 hours each day with video, an increase of 35 minutes from the prior-year period without the pandemic. The programming they were watching the most on the living room TV included NFL football (i.e. the Super Bowl and “Sunday Night Football”), NBC’s “This Is Us,” and Paramount Television’s “Yellowstone,” starring Kevin Costner.

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Top TV Programs of 2020 – Single Telecast

 

Top TV Programs of 2020 – Regularly Scheduled

Rank

Program

Originator

Persons 2+ Rating

Avg. No. of Viewers (millions)

1 “Sunday Night Football” NBC 5.3 16.28
2 “NCIS” CBS 5 15.4
3 “FBI” CBS 4.2 12.8
4 “NFL Thursday Night Football” FOX 4.2 12.8
5 “Blue Bloods” CBS 4 12.1
6 “Chicago Fire” NBC 3.9 11.9
7 “Chicago PD” NBC 3.7 11.5
8 “Young Sheldon” CBS 3.7 11.4
9 “Chicago Med” NBC 3.7 11.3
10 “This Is Us” NBC 3.7 11.2

 

Top Time-Shifted Programs of 2020 – Ranked By Percent Change in  Viewers

Rank

Program

Originator

% Increase in Viewers from Time-shifted Viewing

1 “Yellowstone” Paramount 214.8%
2 “Emergence” ABC 191.7%
3 “Stumptown” ABC 170.7%
4 “Manifest” NBC 157.6%
5 “The Resident” Fox 152.6%
6 “New Amsterdam” NBC 152.3%
7 “The Walking Dead” AMC 148.4%
8 “Will & Grace” NBC 144.0%
9 “Million Little Things” ABC 143.9%
10 “Good Girls” NBC 142.7%

 

Top Time-Shifted Programs of 2020

Rank

Program

Originator

Absolute Difference in Viewership (millions)

1 “This Is Us” NBC 6.5
2 “NCIS” CBS 6.2
3 “The Good Doctor”  ABC 6.1
4 “911” Fox 5.8
5 “New Amsterdam” NBC 5.7
6 “Blue Bloods” CBS 5.7
7 “Chicago PD” NBC 5.5
8 “Bull” CBS 5.4
9 “Chicago Fire” NBC 5.3
10 “FBI” CBS 5.2

 

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