2021-22 Ratings History


Change is inevitable, and the broadcast networks experience this continual trend.  This is the 72nd year of reported broadcast Nielsen data, and the numbers continue to shrink as people steer away from Live+Same Day viewing and watch their programs when it fit their schedules.  So small in fact the ratings belt was let out a decimal to avoid 7 and 8-way ties.  10 years ago, sports and sturdy reality TV shows would have competed with tentpole scripted shows for the top 20 positions.  5 years later, scripted juggernauts became a rarity in this range with mammoth shows such as Big Bang Theory, Empire, This is Us and Grey's Anatomy punctuating unscripted shows.  Flash forward to 2022, and scripted shows begin in 22nd place.  

Even Reality TV is seeing lighter numbers, with only the fall cycles of Survivor and former ratings mammoth Masked Singer barely cracking the top 10, unable to finish above the 1.0 mark.  Sports dominates live viewing, less original scripted shows are offered up, outsourced programming is becoming an increasing trend and networks are scrambling desperately to locate reality, competition and gameshows as schedule fillers.  

Each network experienced obstacles, with NBC finishing in 1st on the heels of This is Us' heralded final season, the strong Chicago franchises and NFL.  The network will have its challenges next year minus This is Us and cycling The Voice down to fall only, but other networks are exhibiting their own obstacles.  FOX took second again, but will have softer shows and a massive loss as Thursday Night Football moves to Amazon Prime.  The Masked Singer experienced crippling losses during its 4th year on the air, though it still delivered respectable ratings.  One strong perk FOX received is NFL gains allowed their sagging animation block to rate higher longer into the season.

Further down the ladder in 3rd was a stable CBS, who located 4 solid and worthy sitcoms, as well as solid franchises sprinkled throughout the schedule.  And again, took bold risks in their shows they retained and dispensed.  The Tiffany network continues to commit itself to procedural dramas on most evenings, but took a hatchet to two Chuck Lorre sophomore sitcoms, B Positive and United States of Al.  While losing sitcom space seems saddening, CBS seems to value quality over quantity, unlike 4th Place ABC.  Already handicapped by a lack of sports, the network took a massive blow when its highly-rated Dancing With the Stars moved over to Disney Plus.  In this loss, ABC was forced to mass renew most series, even if they did not deserve to be.  

And most shocking?  CW pulled a mass extermination of several series anticipating new network ownership.  Several niche favorites such as DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Charmed, Dynasty, Legacies and Batwoman were all given the ax.  Given CW committed to having the most year-round scripted programming, this beckons the question of what will their schedule look like for the 2022-23 season.

Trending Hot: Strong programming such as Thursday Night Football and Dancing With The Stars fleeing the broadcast coop for more lucrative streaming services became a noticeable trend.  Doubling and triplicating procedural dramas became noticeable, along with networks stacking an entire evening with one franchise.  With so many hours of programming to make up for, networks such as ABC mass renewed aged and weak shows for the sake of having programming left to deliver.  Outsourced or licensed programming continues to proliferate the schedule.  Networks have also diminished upfront announcements in May by renewing and cancelling shows earlier into the season.

Trending Tepid: Scripted programming is not an endangered species on broadcast television, but is trending down.  Reality TV, once a surefire way to gain live viewers, now sees softer numbers as even the strongest of franchises grow tired.  Despite the losses in entries offered, sitcoms are still alive and well.  The reboot and revival trend has appeared to have come and gone, but entries such as Law & Order still came back from the dead, to mediocre success.  Tinkering with programming to test a series' true value is a noticeable trend for CBS as they tested various sitcoms in new slots.  And on rare occasions, cancelled shows still find new networks such as Magnum PI switching from CBS to NBC to a 2-season pickup.

Trending Cold: Gone are the days of megahit shows, whether scripted or unscripted.  Heavyweights such as This Is Us bowed out while 9-1-1, Grey's Anatomy and Masked Singer now see softer ratings.  Reboots appear to be less in favor, as seen from the cancellations of Charmed, Dynasty, Roswell, New Mexico, Magnum PI and 4400.

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