7 Broadcast TV Shows Are Actually Up in Viewers This Summer

Ratings: ‘Big Brother’ Tops a Pretty Bland Thursday

CBS/ABC/NBC/Fox

7 Broadcast TV Shows Are Actually Up in Viewers This Summer

Well, it depends how you count ”Love Island“

Summer is not typically the season of noteworthy TV viewership, and ratings have been heading in the wrong direction for years now. But seven shows on the Big 4 broadcast networks are bucking at least one of those trends.

CBS’ “Love Island – Wednesday” episodes are the big grower — on a percentage basis — compared to last summer. According to Nielsen, Wednesday “Love Island” episodes have gained 10% more viewers — making the reality dating show the lone entertainment series across the Big 4 networks (CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC) up double digits. (I’ll get to that “entertainment” caveat in a bit.)

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The same show on the following evening (so, “Love Island – Thursday”) is up 4% from summer 2020. Like pretty much every show, though “Love Island” evenings were flat with last summer in the advertiser-sought demographic of adults ages 18-49.

Here, it’s good to point out that across all five of “Love Island’s” evenings, the series is down 4% from Summer 2020, on average.

All numbers in this story come from Nielsen’s “most current” ratings data, which includes seven days of (mostly) DVR viewing where available. All episodes considered for this report aired between May 26, 2021 and Aug. 22, 2021.

We did not include The CW in this examination. The network’s relatively small viewership totals make for much volatility in a comparison like this one.

On NBC, “American Ninja Warrior” is up 8% in total viewers and flat with last summer in the demo. Two episodes of “America’s Got Talent – Wednesday,” which is the results show, are up just 1% in terms of overall audience members.

Hey, up is up. And that’s particularly impressive considering that at the time of this writing, we did not have delayed-viewing numbers for last week’s episode — or half of the hours we’re even counting. On the other hand, a fair argument can be made here that two episodes is not enough for a stable measurement. But you’ve got to draw a line somewhere.

ABC has three shows that have shown viewership gains from last summer: “20/20 – Friday” (up 6%), the Elizabeth Banks-hosted “Press Your Luck” (up 5%), and Steve Harvey’s “Celebrity Family Feud” (up 1%). They are all unchanged from last year in the key demo’s ratings.

Fox has a pair of sports shows up from last summer — though I suppose one could make a case for WWE’s “Friday Night SmackDown” to be a hybrid of sports and entertainment. The blue-branded professional-wrestling program is up 2% in total viewers this summer vs. last. But the biggie, which is definitely sports, is Fox’s Saturday Major League Baseball programming, which has grown its audience a whopping 18% since last summer.

Still, baseball is the least-watched show on this list, averaging 2.26 million total viewers. (“SmackDown” at 2.32 million is not that much higher, nor are the “Love Islands,” which average 2.39 million on Wednesdays and 2.36 million on Thursdays.) Small numbers help make the growth (or decline) appear more drastic on a percentage basis.

Enjoy the final week of (boardwalk) summer before Labor Day, readers. Enjoy it like you’re an executive producer on one of these shows.