Which Shows & Networks Held TV Ad Attention in Summer 2020?

Summer 2020 was far from normal, which tracks for a year that’s been anything but. TV programming and ads were no different, with live sports only returning in late July, the pandemic continuing to make headlines, more calls for racial justice and a presidential election that is already extremely heated. Add in most of the country being stuck inside to some extent, and TV was a major source of entertainment for Americans this summer.

After looking at attention through the lens of brands, creatives and industries last time around, part 2 shifts focus to the shows and networks that owned summer attention.

(all data runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day — May 25-Sep. 7)


Which Shows Received the Most Ad Attention in 2020?

Which Shows Prevented Ad Tune-Out?

The Leader: NBA games dominated impression delivery this summer, accounting for 24.5 billion TV ad impressions. Attention for ads during NBA games was also 9% above the norm.

  • Attention for ads during PGA Golf were up 11% compared to the norm, delivering 10.5 billion impressions over the summer
  • The Price is Right stood out in a crowded field, with ads getting a completion rate of 98.74%, and an Attention Index that’s 15% above the norm, on 9.3 billion impressions
  • Friends re-airs continue to rake in impressions (19 billion, the second-most all summer), and attention was up 5% compared to the norm

Which Networks Held Audiences for Ads?

Which Networks Held Audiences for Ads?

Sports’ return was a major boost for ESPN, as attention for ads on the network this summer was 8% above the norm against nearly 31.9 billion impressions. Meanwhile, TNT — the NBA’s other broadcast partner — was close behind with ad attention being 7% above the norm with 35.3 billion impressions. 

Fox News had the most impressions for the summer (96.7 billion), and ad attention was 4% above the norm. Ad attention for competitor MSNBC was 6% above the norm (against 37.4 billion impressions) and CNN attention was 3% above on 60.7 billion impressions.

Broadcast networks like CBS (8% above the norm) and ABC (7% above) also performed well from an attention standpoint, as did BET, which was 11% above the norm against over 18 billion impressions for the summer. 

Certain dayparts such as mornings score particularly high because of established viewing behaviors. People wake up, turn on the TV and start their day in the company of talk shows. This lack of interruptions helps shows such as Today (2% above the norm), GMA (3% above) and CNBC Squawk Box (2% above) consistently fare really well.

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