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How Big Were ‘Bluey’ and ‘Tracker’ in 2023-24? TV’s Hidden Numbers

How Big Were ‘Bluey’ and ‘Tracker’ in 2023-24? TV’s Hidden Numbers

It was the season of TV that wasn’t actually a full season for a host of shows. It was a season when an Australian blue heeler became the biggest thing in streaming, when women’s sports (basketball in particular) took a big leap, when Jon Stewart got back behind a desk, and when the NFL ruled the TV landscape.

OK, that last one is true for any of the past, oh, 15 seasons or so (at least). But the others? Those were unique to this year, and even if they were much discussed, there are still some more data points to be mined from them. Here are some of the hidden numbers behind the 2023-24 TV season — beginning with a couple that were truly hidden.

252: An estimate of the number of episodes of scripted TV series on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC that didn’t air this season as the result of media conglomerates not making a deal with striking writers and actors until the fall, months after production on most shows would normally begin (and even though the companies ended up giving the guilds most of what they asking). That figure is taken from comparing the episode counts for 38 veteran series on the networks this season and last season. The actual number might not be that high, as networks don’t typically announce episode counts anymore and there’s no guarantee that a 22-episode show from the previous season would have had the same order this season. Even accounting for those unknowns, however, it’s not an exaggeration to say that dozens of episodes of those shows (and the resulting paychecks for casts and crews) were lost.

40%-50%: The percentage of a given comedy or drama’s viewers who watch an episode in the seven days after its on-air premiere, whether by streaming or DVR. Again, that’s an estimate based on limited data broadcasters provide about the cross-platform performance of their shows. Though networks are certainly sharing those figures with advertisers, streaming data remains frustratingly shielded from view in most cases. The question is, why? Networks only release internal streaming numbers when they have an especially good story to tell, but the story is a good one across the board: Some shows double their audience in that first week, and the streaming audience is a good deal younger than the on-air one. If you’re trying to make a case for your future, why not shout those facts constantly instead of just mentioning them as an occasional aside?

32.82 billion: The number of minutes American viewers have spent streaming Bluey on Disney+ since the start of the traditional TV season on Sept. 25, 2023, according to Nielsen’s streaming ratings (at least through the end of April, the latest week for which numbers are available). That’s about 2.4 billion minutes more viewing time than for Super Bowl LVIII — the most watched single telecast in American TV history — accumulated for CBS in February. Bluey’s episode “The Sign” is also the most discussed episode of a preschool series in recent memory.

18.87 million, 14.82 million, 8.41 million: Respective audiences for the NCAA women’s basketball championship, the NCAA men’s basketball title game and the most watched NBA game of the season to date (game seven of the Timberwolves-Nuggets playoff series). This year marked the first time the women’s March Madness final had ever topped the men’s final, with Iowa star Caitlin Clark’s record-setting scoring season and an undefeated South Carolina team helping fuel big audiences throughout the season. (The effect has carried over into the early part of the WNBA campaign, which recorded its three biggest TV audiences in the past 20-plus years in May.) The women’s NCAA final will also likely end up ahead of the NBA Finals as well, which haven’t topped 18.9 million viewers for a single game since 2017.

7.22 million: Average viewers for NCIS: Hawai’i this season, which gives the show the unlucky distinction of being the most watched series that was canceled. It ranked 14th among all network shows (excluding sports pre- and postgame telecasts) this season.

2.77 million, 8.78 million: The first number is the average viewership for Hallmark’s When Calls the Heart, the most watched cable series (based on Nielsen’s linear ratings) this season. The second is how many more viewers last season’s No. 1 cable show, Yellowstone, averaged. The latter is set to return (and all but certainly reclaim the cable crown) in November for its (final? At least in this iteration?) half-season.

1.26 million: The biggest audience (not including simulcasts) for The Daily Show since Jon Stewart’s surprise return to the Comedy Central late-night show in February. Stewart’s second show back on Feb. 19 — he’s hosting once a week leading up to the presidential election — snagged the show’s biggest viewer tally since Stewart’s last show as the full-time host in 2015. Ratings have not hit those heights since then, but the show has stayed considerably above than its past couple of seasons.

64.7, 60.8: Median viewer ages (not including streaming) for The Golden Bachelor and The Bachelor on ABC this season. The Golden Bachelor was a breakout show for the network, and its median viewer age pretty closely mirrored the average age of its participants. As for The Bachelor, its ratings improved over last season, but the show’s median viewer was closer in age to Joey Graziadei’s and his bachelorettes’ parents.

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3.04 billion: The largest viewing time total for any streaming show in a single week this season, belonging to Netflix’s Fool Me Once — based on a novel by Harlan Coben — in the first week of 2024. The thriller burned hot and fast, collecting 6.5 billion minutes of viewing in its first three weeks before dropping off the top 10 three more weeks after that.

1.94 million: The number of viewers between Tracker, the most watched non-sports series of this season, and the second-place show, NCIS (both air on CBS). Following its post-Super Bowl premiere, Tracker averaged 10.94 million viewers this season, while NCIS came in at just under 9 million viewers. Tracker is the first freshman show to lead the season in total viewers (excluding sports) since 2018’s Roseanne revival (which, obviously, had a ton of name recognition in its favor).

8.49 million: The difference in viewers between the overall No. 1 show, NBC’s Sunday Night Football (19.43 million), and the top entertainment series in Tracker. The margin alone is larger than the audience for all but five non-sports shows that aired this season.

24.6 million: The average number of viewers for the NFL’s late afternoon Sunday game across CBS and Fox, the single biggest broadcast window of this season (or any other for the past several years). The 4:25 p.m. ET game was up by about 5 percent from the 2022 season and peaked with an audience of 31.52 million for a Christmas Eve matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.

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