December 21, 2019

As another decade of television becomes part of history, the definition of “TV” has never been so hard to pin down, and that’s something we’ll continue to see in the years ahead. In the chase for eyeballs, however, one thing, and one thing alone, will win the TV audience: good content. And content producers across the video spectrum—traditional broadcast, cable, streaming—have responded by focusing more time, effort and money on the development of what they believe will attract audiences.

Amid the rise of new platforms and channels, linear TV remains the option with the biggest reach (roughly 90%). And that means the media owners whose programs top the year’s most-watched list continue to command top dollar for the ad spots within their shows. Yet while appointment viewing is alive and well, especially when it comes to sports and news, DVRs remain a staple way that viewers capitalize on their on-demand desires when their schedules demand it. And in looking at this year’s time-shifted viewing trends, we see two cable programs in the top spot in terms of percentage audience lift and absolute audience difference for the first time in the last few years.

Unlike our expanding content options, the U.S. TV audience is finite. And that means content needs to deliver on what that audience wants—regardless of platform or monetization strategy.

Regardless of changes across the TV landscape, the top shows of 2019 thus far has delivered an array of compelling viewing fare—content that raises the bar for all, which bodes well for TV viewers in the years to come.

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