Netflix, CBS Commanded the Most Viewing Time in 2021-22
Netflix drew more TV viewing time than any other outlet during the 2021-22 TV season, nearly matching the combined total of the two most watched broadcast networks. Among the broadcasters, CBS captured the biggest share of viewers’ time.
Nielsen data showing total minutes viewed for the season so far (Sept. 20, 2021-May 8, 2022) show that Americans spend a staggering amount of time in front of screens. The big four broadcasters and the five streamers the measurement company publicly tracks (Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix and Prime Video) accounted for more than 4 trillion minutes of viewing time — or 203 hours for all 332 million people in the United States. That figure doesn’t include other streaming services, broadcast networks The CW, Univision, Telemundo and PBS or any of the dozens of cable channels.
Nielsen’s monthly platform rankings show cable viewing averages about 38 percent of total TV usage, and other streamers (including YouTube) account for about 15 percent. So the total, all-in consumption figure is likely north of 6 trillion minutes for the season, or 301 hours for every person in the United States.
Netflix drew 1.33 trillion minutes of viewing time during the TV season, with its vast library and large stable of originals offering virtually limitless viewing options.
CBS amassed the most time among the broadcast networks with 752.8 billion minutes (for CBS programming only; network figures don’t include syndicated or local shows). The network’s robust daytime presence and late-night franchises — The Late Show With Stephen Colbert accounted for 22.5 billion minutes, more than any other late-night talker — helped push it to the top.
“These audience engagement numbers speak loudly to the broad appeal of CBS programming across entertainment, news and sports and the strength of our broadcast platform,” said CBS president and CEO George Cheeks. “All of this popular content is available live, and most is available on-demand to our streaming partner Paramount+, providing a marketing and programming differentiator to our fast-growing streaming service.”
CBS also notes that its five top scripted series in minutes viewed — FBI, NCIS, Blue Bloods, FBI: Most Wanted and NCIS: Hawai’i — outpaced Netflix’s top five original shows (Ozark, Squid Game, You, Inventing Anna and The Witcher) in minutes watched during the season.
NBC ranks second in viewing time among the broadcast nets with 596.7 billion minutes, followed by ABC (471.9 billion) and Fox (323.1 billion). Fox has a smaller primetime footprint and less network programming in other dayparts than its rivals, which accounts in part for the lower total-day viewing.
All of the big four broadcasters outdrew Disney+, Prime Video, Hulu and Apple TV+ in total viewing time. Disney+ was second among streamers — albeit at less than a fifth of Netflix’s total — followed by Amazon’s Prime Video and Hulu. Apple TV+, which offers only originals and doesn’t have the library content of the others, is a distant fifth.
Here’s how the nine measured outlets rank.
1. Netflix, 1.334 trillion minutes viewed
2. CBS, 752.8 billion
3. NBC, 596.7 billion
4. ABC, 471.9 billion
5. Fox, 323.1 billion
6. Disney+, 245.4 billion
7. Prime Video, 173.7 billion
8. Hulu, 128.1 billion
9. Apple TV+, 21.7 billion
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