CBS Towers Over the Compeition in Billions of Minutes Watched


CBS is taking a page out of Netflix’s playbook by announcing its programming success in the billions of minutes watched.

If you were wondering what that might mean to a broadcast network, it measures out to 456 billion minutes of CBS programming watched in the first four months of 2024.

With two new hits on its hands — Tracker and Elsbeth — this doesn’t surprise us in the least.

Here’s the real measure of their success, though.

Viewers delivered over 30% more time spent in front of CBS programming than Netflix and over 231% more than all other streamers combined.

No wonder they’re patting themselves on the back.

Those are incredible numbers that often go unnoticed when you use traditional ratings tools to deliver the news.

Even crazier, the time spent watching CBS programming has increased by 5.8% over the same period in 2023.

People often wonder how shows can be considered a success when their traditional ratings look so dismal.

The supplied data for this discussion includes Nielsen Total Day data as well as internal reporting for Paramount+, PlutoTV, and the CBS app.

Maybe you didn’t realize that in addition to the CBS broadcast channel, those three streaming platforms are all part of the family, and every eyeball on your favorite show, no matter the platform, gives it additional life.

Just look at S.W.A.T. and how it went from being summarily dismissed to being pulled off the auction block and renewed for a shocking Season 8 renewal.

We went from wondering if economics were the one enemy the S.W.A.T. couldn’t overcome at the end of March to announcing the cancellation was rescinded two weeks later.

So, just how successful are CBS shows these days?

There are 21 current CBS series earning at least 5 billion minutes watched. The closest competition is NBC, which has 15 series, and Fox News, which has 14 series that reach the same minutes watched.

Ten current CBS series earn more minutes than the biggest series currently airing on Netflix, Love Is Blind.

Tracker is an incredible success, which we saw coming from a mile away.

Sure, we wondered first if Justin Hartley could carry an action show like Tracker, but we were offering salient points for consideration.

Tracker, with 9.3 billion minutes watched, has outpaced other streaming originals, including True Detective: Night Country on HBO with 7.5 billion minutes, Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender with 6.9 billion, and The Gentlemen with 5.7 billion.

Tracker is 102% higher than Shogun’s 4.6 billion minutes and Amazon’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith with 3.2 billion.

And let’s not forget about NCIS, which recently released its 1000th hour of programming across the franchise.

NCIS, with 51.1 billion minutes watched, outpaces broadcast originals Law & Order: SVU (48.4b) by 5.6% and Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 combined (22.5b) by 127%.

Franchise to franchise, NCIS’s 76 billion minutes towers over the OneChicago franchise’s nearly 52 billion minutes.

If you wondered why there are more NCIS shows on the way, there’s your answer, and it also suggests that NCIS Hawaii must have contributed much but not enough to earn a renewal in light of NCIS: Origins and the Tiva additions.

We at TV Fanatic go to great lengths to cover as many CBS dramas as our talent pool allows, and this is a good indicator as to why we allot so much time to the coverage.

What CBS is doing, they are doing right, and viewers are turning up in droves to watch.

In addition to NCIS: Origins is coming in the fall, and we’ve also got the Matlock reboot. If it tracks similarly to Elsbeth and hits the comfort food hot spot, CBS could be maintaining this position for a very long time to come.

Do you watch CBS dramas? What draws you to them? Do these numbers surprise you?

Do ratings make more sense to you when you see the minutes watched vs the traditional small fraction demographic numbers?

What matters more? Minutes watched, or which demographic watches them?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on all things ratings and CBS!

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on X and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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