The 2020-21 TV season isn’t over yet, but CBS has claimed the crown in total viewers for the 13th consecutive year.
The Eye network on Thursday projected it will end the pandemic-battered season with an average of 6.3 million total viewers, with help from the Super Bowl telecast in February, which fell below the 100 million viewer threshold but set a record for streaming viewing on that Sunday, and the success of “The Equalizer” reboot starring Queen Latifah that launched right after the big game (20.4 million viewers).
An enormous boost this season for CBS came in the form of Oprah Winfrey’s blockbuster interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which brought in nearly 18 million viewers in its live airing on March 7.
“From the Super Bowl to ‘The Equalizer’ to Oprah, and even the weekly editions of ‘NCIS’ and ‘FBI’ and ’60 Minutes,’ the scale and reach of CBS programming was on full display this year,” said Radha Subramanyam, CBS Entertainment Group’s chief research and analytics officer. “Even with the considerable challenges that this season presented, the overall content consumption of CBS Network programming is in line with last year when you consider the impressive digital growth.”
CBS still ranks No. 1 in total viewers with Super Bowl viewership excluded, which comes out to an average of 5.8 million viewers. CBS’ 6.3 million average is down about 6.8% from its 2019-20 season mark of 6.7 million viewers.
CBS has a 16% margin in total viewers over its nearest competitor, NBC, with 5.4 million. NBC, however, ranks No. 1 in the adults 18-49 demographic.
In addition, the streaming of CBS Network has grown by 50% year-to-date across all digital platforms, which includes CBS.com, the CBS app, Paramount Plus and channels on Pluto TV and YouTube. The new CBS app has more than 4.5 million downloads since its launch in March 2021.