CBS is expected to finish the 2022-23 broadcast season on a high note.
The network is currently averaging nearly 6M primetime viewers per weeknight, setting it up to be the most-watched of the broadcasters, per live+same-day Nielsen data through April 30. This will mark CBS’ 15th consecutive season at No. 1, tying its own previous winning streak from 1955-1970.
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CBS also holds several of the top broadcast programs for the TV season, including new drama (Fire Country) and comedy (Young Sheldon). In all, the network has 14 series that consistently win their time periods.
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Among dramas, CBS’ stalwart procedurals continue to dominate. NCIS remains at No. 1 among broadcast dramas for the fifth consecutive season (and 13 out of the last 14 seasons). FBI and Blue Bloods are also among the top broadcast dramas.
Young Sheldon is joined among the top comedies by sophomore series Ghosts as well as The Neighborhood and Bob Hearts Abishola.
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After 35 days of multi-platform viewing, CBS has five series that are averaging 11M or more viewers for the current season — NCIS, Ghosts, FBI, Blue Bloods and Young Sheldon. Two additional series, The Equalizer and Fire Country, are averaging at least 10M viewers.
According to the network, 19 out of the top 30 series on Paramount+ are CBS titles, in terms of minutes viewed. Among the top performers are Ghosts, Fire Country and Survivor.
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CBS is also touting its performance across the TV season in terms of minutes viewed. The network has generated about 827B viewing minutes from CBS entertainment, news and sports programming across the Network, Paramount+, Pluto TV and the CBS app.
That’s up 2.2% from last season and marks a fairly significant lead against its closest broadcast competitor, NBC, which managed about 497B viewing minutes. Some of the most-watched titles include NCIS with over 39B minutes viewed and Fire Country with 12.5B. The FBI franchise has also collectively secured about 39B minutes watched. In late night, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert has amassed 21B minutes viewed.
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The viewing measurement uses Nielsen’s “most current” data for all content, which includes 35-day windows where possible. The data for the broadcast networks doesn’t include multi-platform viewing because CBS doesn’t have access to its competitors internal data. The CBS number does include any live streaming on Paramount+.
While it’s not a perfect unit of measurement, reporting viewership in total minutes does allow for a comparison between the broadcast networks and streaming services, since this is the metric in which Nielsen measures streaming viewership. The streamers have notoriously kept audience data close to the chest because they are able to report viewership numbers at their own discretion. Many of them, including Paramount+, do not reveal any viewing metrics on their own. So far, Netflix is the only streaming service to consistently release any audience data with its weekly Top 10 lists (and reporting in hours or minutes viewed heavily favors streaming models).
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By this measurement, broadcast content continues to rival (and beat) streaming original content consumption as well. While CBS came in second to Netflix for viewing minutes in the first quarter of 2023, it can now claim victory.
The broadcaster slid into first place with 827.7B viewing minutes, eking out a win against Netflix’s 827.1B. This is quite impressive, especially considering the sheer volume of original titles on Netflix, which frequently dominates Nielsen’s Top 10 streaming lists.
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In fact, audiences spent about three times more time with CBS programming than the combined minutes spent watching SVOD originals on Prime Video, Hulu, Apple TV+, Disney+, Peacock and HBO Max.
ABC came in at about 452B viewing minutes, and Fox sits at about 369B — both still significantly above the second place streamer, which is Prime Video with about 70B.
The data for the streamers doesn’t include any acquired or licensed content, which of course is a huge source of viewership for all of them. Presumably, the numbers are even more unbalanced for HBO Max, which is differentiated from HBO among Nielsen’s streaming metrics. That means viewing for shows like The Last Of Us, Succession, and House of the Dragon wouldn’t be included in streamer’s 19B viewing minutes for the TV season.
When those titles were factored in to the streamer’s total for the first quarter of the year, it significantly changed the streaming rankings.
“One trillion minutes of content viewed by the end of season speaks loudly to the relevance and strength of CBS as a multiplatform brand,” said Radha Subramanyam, chief research and analytics officer at CBS. “The time spent is also up more than 2%, demonstrating the value of our popular content in a broadcast, AVOD, SVOD ecosystem. In fact, the median age of viewers watching CBS primetime shows is 20-25 years younger in streaming, a proof point that our series are also reaching new audiences.”
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