2020-21 Ratings History

The best way to describe 2020-21 broadcast television season is a bittersweet symphony.  Not an outright tragedy as there were plenty of reminders the strong do survive, but also the strong can be taken out by evolution and unexpected forces. Particularly with CBS who was due for a tempo change and shocked viewers by axing/outsourcing various shows such as Mom, NCIS: New Orleans, MacGyver and SEAL Team.

The Pandemic raged on well beyond the tail end of the 2019-20 season, engulfing the entirety of the 2020-21 season and changing the television landscape to lowered depths.  The later portions of the season only held The Masked Singer in the Top 10, one of the few shows fortunate enough to hold ratings above 1.0.  The data presented represents Live/Same Day Viewing Demographics for 18-49 adults from September 6, 2020 through May 28, 2021.  Please note the data for the majority of 2020  represents unrounded figures, potentially skewing data by some hundredths.

To peer back on the prior 70 season on display from 1950-2020, check out the Ratings History library.

Trending Hot -- Will Sports ever go out of trend?  They lose viewers every season but always tackle the upper positions in the seasonal rankings.  So much even softer college football ratings for ABC landed in 21st place.  In a season left with voids of space, networks wisely licensed out existing programming in absence of original programming.  Broadcast networks are no longer the designer outlet of trends, but rather evolving into an eclectic thrift store of programming.  Despite a leaner pallet of sitcoms, CBS managed to wrangle the stronger entries which came close to or crossed the 1.0 threshold in ratings.  Pandemics be damned, CW carried on business as though the event never happened and had its year-round roster in full swing.  If only the other 4 networks took a hint and would knock it off with stretching shows over 8 months and expecting viewers to continue to pay attention.  Blocks of like programming proved beneficial as CBS enjoyed Tuesdays with FBI, NBC enjoyed its Chicago-verse monopolizing Wednesdays, and ABC and NBC giving each other noteworthy competition with ABC's Shonda-land and NBC's Law and Order headers.

Trending Tepid -- Reality TV stands stronger than scripted fares, but their primary franchises weathered considerable damage this year.  Only The Bachelor and The Masked Singer avoided dipping below the 1.0 line, and musical fares American Idol and The Voice cannibalized each other with simultaneous competition on Mondays.  Scripted shows of the strongest caliber took extreme batterings particularly after the new year as ALL dropped below the 1.0 benchmark.  FOX and ABC dramas wisely segmented seasons to allow blocks of consistent programming for most, with dramas emerging stronger than sitcoms.  Movie nights emerged again to spackle undesirable lapses in scheduling.  They have let to reclaim the 70's glory of second-hand movies of HBO quality or the 90's Lifetime-esque "women in peril" entries but make wonderful encores over tired repeats.

Trending Cold -- ABC and NBC sitcoms looked comisserative this season as ABC displayed a disjunct display of outdated shows a shadow of their glory combined with newbies who failed to crackle.  And NBC, ever creative and sophisticated, cannot seem to locate a modest success to keep the genre going.  Series which attempted to address COVID-19 or other crucial social issues met with mixed to negative reviews or ratings as exhausted viewers seemed to favor shows which helped them forget the world had gone to shit in 2020.  

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