As in 2011 and 2012, this year’s top TV programs were almost exclusively the realm of NFL telecasts, per Nielsen, with various NFL programming occupying 9 of the top 10 programs of the year. Super Bowl XLVII between the San Francisco 49ers and the victorious Baltimore Ravens took the #1 spot, with 108.7 million viewers (37.6% of US viewers aged 2+). Almost all of those viewers (106.6 million) stayed tuned through the blackout of the game in New Orleans.
Other Super Bowl-related programs followed in the #3 and #4 positions, while NFL playoff games occupied 4 of the remaining 5 spots in the top 10. The Academy Award telecast drew 40.4 million viewers to take the #7 spot; last year, The GRAMMY Awards (39.9 million) was the only non-sports telecast to break into the top 10.
For the record:
#1 Super Bowl XLVII CBS 02.03.13 108.693 million viewers 37.6 Rating
#2 Super Bowl XLVII – Delay CBS 02.03.13 106.556 million viewers 36.8 Rating
#3 Super Bowl XLVII – Post Game CBS 02.03.13 63.260 million viewers 21.9 Rating
#4 Super Bowl XLVII – Kick Off CBS 02.03.13 63.003 million viewers 21.8 Rating
#5 AFC Championships CBS 01.20.13 47.707 million viewers 16.5 Rating
#6 NFC Championships FOX 01.20.13 41.974 million viewers 14.5 Rating
#7 Academy Awards ABC 02.24.13 40.376 million viewers 14.0 Rating
#8 NFC Wild Card Game FOX 01.06.13 38.088 million viewers 13.2 Rating
#9 AFC Divisional Playoff-Sunday CBS 01.13.13 37.657 million viewers 13.0 Rating
#10 AFC Divisional Playoff-Saturday CBS 01.12.13 35.274 million viewers 12.1 Rating
(NOTE: Data from December 31, 2012-December 08, 2013 English & Spanish language telecasts on Broadcast and Cable only. Persons 2+ estimates include Live and Same Day time-shifted viewing. Excludes breakouts, and telecasts under 5 minutes in duration.)
Perhaps the biggest news of the year was the collapse of Simon Cowell programming.
While “American Idol” had topped the list of primetime programs from 2007 through 2011, it finished out of the top spot by “Sunday Night Football” last year, and this year tumbled all the way to the 7th position. Meanwhile, NBC’s highly-rated live sports event attracted an average audience of 21.7 million viewers (persons 2+ rating of 7.4, slightly up from last year), justifying its hefty price tag for ads. In fact, the pre-kickoff show on Sunday night was the second-highest rated regularly scheduled primetime TV show of the year, while another NFL show, FOX’s “The OT” came in 3rd, edging CBS’s “NCIS,” the top non-sports primetime program.
Notably, a sitcom, CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” which itself carries a hefty spot price tag – made the list, coming in at #8.
Time-Shifting Doubled Viewership For Some Programs this past year.TV viewers are increasingly using their DVRs, and this practice has led to significantly broader audiences when factoring in delayed viewing.
In fact, according to Nielsen, a number of cable shows, scripted dramas in particular, saw large gains when including viewing from sources such as DVR, video-on-demand, and StartOver. FX’s “The Bridge” experienced the greatest increase in viewers, with the program’s viewing audience increased by 164% when factoring in timeshifted viewing (within 7 days). Last year’s top timeshifted program (in relative terms) saw a smaller 130% increase, while the year before, the top time shifted program had an audience increase of 95%.
This year each of the top 10 timeshifted programs more than doubled their viewership when factoring in delayed audiences, with AMC’s “Breaking Bad” in the 10th spot by virtue of its 117.8% increase.
While cable programming saw the largest relative increases when including timeshifted viewing, broadcast programs saw the largest absolute gains (as they had larger bases to begin with). NBC’s freshman drama, “The Blacklist”, enjoyed the largest absolute increase in viewers, such that the program’s TV viewing audience grew by about 7.8 million viewers from the live audience when including time shifted viewing.
FOX’s “The Following” (5.6 million), CBS’s big summer hit “Under the Dome” (5.4 million) followed in terms of absolute audience boost, with ABC’s new series “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (5.34 million) and FOX’s “Sleepy Hollow” (5.33 million) rounding out the top 5, perhaps on account of all of the buzz they received.
Breaking Bad the Top Program on Twitter.
No surprise here, AMC’s hit show, “Breaking Bad” also broke Twitter, with an average unique audience of more than 6 million, meaning that roughly 6 million distinct Twitter accounts saw at least one or more different Tweets about the program per new or live episode during the Fall season (September through November).
AMC also had the second-ranked show on Twitter, “Walking Dead,” which has averaged a unique audience of about 4.9 million accounts.
About the Data: Nielsen’s top individual telecasts data is from December 31, 2012 – December 8, 2013 and includes English- and Spanish-language telecasts on Broadcast and Cable, but excludes breakouts and telecasts under 5 minutes in duration. Persons 2+ estimates include Live and Same Day timeshifted viewing.
The top timeshifted TV programs by absolute difference is based on data from 12/31/2012 to 11/24/2013 and measures the absolute difference between Live Person 2+ and Live+7 projections. A program must reach at least a 1.0 live+7 P2+ rating and have at least 4 telecasts. Excludes breakouts, specials and programs less than 5 minutes in duration.
The Twitter TV rankings are based on data from 9/1/2013-11/30/2013. The data includes new/live episodes of regularly scheduled series programs only and excludes programs with less than 4 telecasts. Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are only available for English-language U.S. Broadcast and Cable Networks.