Over the last few years, premiere sports and special events have dominated Nielsen’s top telecasts list, and the list in 2013 was no different. What’s more, football programming nearly swept the top 10 telecast list in 2013, solidifying a growing reputation that the sport is fast becoming America’s new national pastime. With an average of about 40.4 million viewers, The Oscars was the only non-sports event to make the list. Last year, the Grammy Awards did so, netting a similar 40 million viewers.
In terms of regularly-scheduled programming, football and NBC Sunday Night Football topped the charts. Competition reality programming continued to woo audiences as well, with Dancing With the Stars and American Idol again making the list. A sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, cracked the list for the first time in recent years as well.
Time-shifting continued to grow increasingly stocked as a big part of viewers’ diet of video content. For the second year in a row, the top time-shifted show in terms of lift percentage severely outpaced the top spot from the year prior. The top TV list of 2013 includes an additional time-shifting rank, the overall number of viewers gained from up to seven days of time-shifted viewing (the absolute difference). When ranking the top time-shifted show on percent lift, cable—and specifically scripted cable dramas—populate every spot on the list. When ranking on absolute difference, broadcast shows rule the time-shifted ranks.
Another first in this year’s Top 10 list is the inclusion of social ranks. As television content often transcends the viewer experience to become conversation on Twitter, this year’s lists include Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings (NTTR) Top Series of Fall 2013. The Top Series list, which looks at airings of regularly scheduled programs since the measurement of Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings began in September, is populated by both cable and broadcast series. AMC’s Breaking Bad—a series that came to a much-lauded end—tops the list, with an average of six million people viewing Tweets about each new episode of the program.
Top TV Programs of 2013 – Single Telecast
|Rank||Telecast||Originator||Date Aired||Persons 2+ Rating||Average # of Viewers|
|1||SUPER BOWL XLVII||CBS||02/03/2013||37.6||108,693,000|
|2||SUPER BOWL XLVII-DELAY||CBS||02/03/2013||36.8||106,556,000|
|3||SUPER BOWL XLVII PST-GAME||CBS||02/03/2013||21.9||63,260,000|
|4||SUPER BOWL KICK-OFF||CBS||02/03/2013||21.8||63,003,000|
|5||AFC CHAMPIONSHIP ON CBS||CBS||01/20/2013||16.5||47,707,000|
|6||FOX NFC CHAMPIONSHIP||FOX||01/20/2013||14.5||41,974,000|
|8||FOX NFC WILDCARD GAME||FOX||01/06/2013||13.2||38,088,000|
|9||AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF-SU||CBS||01/13/2013||13.0||37,657,000|
|10||AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF-SA||CBS||01/12/2013||12.2||35,274,000|
|Data from 12/31/2012 – 12/08/2013. English and Spanish-language telecasts on Broadcast and Cable. Primetime. Persons 2+ estimates include live and same-day timeshifted viewing. Excludes breakouts, and programs less than 5 minutes in duration.
Read as: Super Bowl XLVII on CBS averaged 21.7 million viewers who watched live or via timeshifted viewing within the same day.
Top 10 Primetime TV Programs of 2013 – Regularly Scheduled
|Rank||Program||Originator||Persons 2+ Rating||Average # of Viewers|
|1||NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL||NBC||7.4||21,734,000|
|2||SUNDAY NIGHT NFL PRE-KICK||NBC||5.3||15,708,000|
|5||DANCING WITH THE STARS||ABC||4.7||13,862,000|
|6||NFL REGULAR SEASON L||ESPN||4.6||13,446,000|
|8||BIG BANG THEORY, THE||CBS||4.5||13,217,000|
|10||DANCING W/STARS RESULTS||ABC||4.5||12,890,000|
|Data from 12/31/2012 – 12/08/2013. Regularly scheduled English and Spanish-language programs on Broadcast and Cable. Primetime. Persons 2+ estimates include live and same-day timeshifted viewing. Excludes breakouts, specials, programs less than 5 minutes in duration and programs with less than 4 telecasts.
Read as: NBC Sunday Night Football averaged 21.7 million viewers who watched live or via timeshifted viewing within the same day.
TOP 10 TIME-SHIFTED TV PROGRAMS OF 2013 (RANKED BY % CHANGE IN VIEWERSHIP)
|Rank||Program||Originator||% Increase in Viewers from Timeshifted Viewing|
|2||COVERT AFFAIRS||USA NETWORK||164.0%|
|7||AMERICAN HORROR STORY||FX||131.7%|
|8||SONS OF ANARCHY||FX||129.2%|
|Data from 12/31/2012 – 11/24/2013. Broadcast Prime; Primetime TSV%: Percent increase in rating is based on absolute difference between Live Persons 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.
Read as: The TV viewing audience to The Bridge on FX increased 164 percent from the live audience with timeshifted viewing (within 7 days).
Top 10 Timeshifting TV Programs of 2013 (Ranked by Absolute Difference in Viewership)
|3||UNDER THE DOME||CBS||5,442,000|
|4||MARVEL AGENTS S.H.I.E.L.D||ABC||5,342,000|
|6||THE BIG BANG THEORY||CBS||4,976,000|
|Data from 12/31/2012 – 11/24/2013. Broadcast Prime; 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.
Read as: The TV viewing audience of The Blacklist on NBC increased by nearly 7.8 million viewers from the live audience with timeshifted viewing (within 7 days)
Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings: Top 10 Series of Fall 2013
|Rank||Network||Program||Average Unique Audience||Average Impressions||Average Unique Authors||Average Tweets|
|2||AMC||The Walking Dead||4,891,000||28,133,000||244,000||490,000|
|3||FX||American Horror Story: Coven||2,931,000||12,177,000||102,000||202,000|
|5||ABC||Dancing With the Stars||2,219,000||7,947,000||40,000||78,000|
|8||FOX||The X Factor||1,796,000||7,185,000||79,000||222,000|
|9||MTV||Catfish: The TV Show||1,772,000||10,806,000||69,000||189,000|
|Data from 9/1/2013 – 11/30/2013, ranked by Average Unique Audience. Activity metrics (Unique Authors and Tweets) are a measure of relevant Twitter activity from three hours before, during and three hours after an episode’s initial broadcast, local time. Reach metrics (Unique Audience and Impressions) measure the audience of relevant Tweets ascribed to an episode from when the Tweets are sent until the end of the broadcast day at 5 am. 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.
Read as: Breaking Bad on AMC averaged 6.0 million distinct Twitter accounts viewing at least one or more different Tweets about the program per new/live episode from September through November.
Source: Nielsen SocialGuide.