CBS Breaks Record as Most-Watched Network for 16th Consecutive Season

The network ended the 2023-24 season with 10 shows with over 10 million viewers

Tracker
Justin Hartley as Colter Shaw in "Tracker" (Michael Courtney/CBS)

For the 16th season in a row, CBS has emerged as the most-watched network on primetime. And with that, the Columbia Broadcasting System has broken its own record, securing the longest winning streak of any broadcast network.

The record was previously held by CBS for its viewership dominance from 1955 to 1970. During the 2023-24 season, CBS is currently averaging 5.59 million viewers. According to the network, that’s 580,000 more viewers than second place NBC, which is averaging 5.01 million viewers. It’s also 1.3 million viewers more than ABC’s average (4.29 million) and 2.24 million viewers more than Fox’s average (3.35 million). All of these numbers are according to Nielsen live plus 7-day ratings through April 21.

Additionally, multiplatform viewing for CBS primetime has jumped 11% compared to this time last year. When multiplatform viewing is factored in, CBS has three series averaging 12 million or more viewers (“Tracker,” “Young Sheldon” and “NCIS”). It also has six series averaging 11 million or more viewers and 10 series averaging 10 million or more viewers. This is based on live plus 35-day viewing and streaming on Paramount+, CBS.com and the CBS app.

During this ongoing TV season, the network boasted having 13 of the Top 20 broadcast series. These include new series “Tracker,” “Elsbeth” and “NCIS: Sydney,” which are the top three new broadcast series of the season in terms of total viewers. The network also highlighted returning dramas like “NCIS” and “FBI,” as well as comedies like “Young Sheldon,” “Ghosts,” “The Neighborhood” and “Bob Hearts Abishola.” CBS also remains the No. 1 broadcast network in primetime among African American viewers. However, these stats could change in the following season as both “Young Sheldon” and “Bob Hearts Abishola” will come to an end next week.

In addition to its season wins in primetime, the network will close out the season as No. 1 in late night for its seventh consecutive season, No. 1 in daytime for its 38th consecutive season and No. 1 in primetime news thanks to “60 Minutes.” All of these metrics are based on total viewers.

Altogether, 456 billion minutes of CBS programming were watched in the first four months of 2024. This includes viewership from CBS entertainment, news and sports programming across the network, Paramount+, Pluto TV and the CBS app. That’s an increase of 5.8% compared to the same time period last year.

CBS states this is 30% higher than the total time spent viewing Netflix originals and 231% higher than the total time spent viewing originals on all other streaming competitors combined. This claim is based on Nielsen Total Day data from Jan. 1-April 21 and also includes internal reporting for Paramount+, PlutoTV and the CBS app. It should be noted that this measurement doesn’t include internal reporting from CBS’ competitors.

“Minutes watched give us an apples-to-apples comparison to measure viewership across broadcast networks and digital platforms. CBS continues to aggregate a mass multiplatform audience with the network programming up nearly 6% compared to this time last year, which speaks to how the popularity of our programming continues to resonate with viewers,” Radha Subramanyam, chief research and analytics officer at CBS, said in a press release.

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