Viewing Leaps 20% To 1.1 Trillion Minutes In 2020, Smart TV Maker Vizio Says; Sports, News, Familiar Shows Dominate

EXCLUSIVE: Viewing on Vizio smart TVs surged to 1.1 trillion minutes in 2020, up 20.3% from 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the manufacturer said Monday.

With about 18% market share, Vizio is the No. 2 maker of smart TVs sold in the U.S. Using data from its automatic content recognition subsidiary Inscape, Vizio tracked some 17 million TV sets and viewers who opted in to have their viewing measured. Of that group, about 14 million view programming through the company’s SmartCast app.

While Covid-19 was boosting viewing, streaming was also continuing an ongoing increase in popularity among viewers and programmers. Vizio added 150 new free linear channels over the course of the year and offered access to apps like Disney+ and Peacock. Overall streaming of ad-supported programming on Vizio rose 226%, the company said with a 142% burst for SmartCast’s home screen since the onset of the pandemic in March.

In terms of programming, comfort food ruled the year, with college and NFL football topping the chart in terms of percentage of total view time. (See full charts below.) It is worth noting how widespread the categories are — NFL football was the clear No. 1 but only took up 2% of total viewing, while “other viewing” totaled almost 92%.

Friends, Chicago P.D. and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit were scripted shows landing in the top 10 of total view time percentage. Chicago P.D., while No. 8 on the live list, rose to third in terms of time-shifted viewing, best of any scripted show.

Peppa Pig and The Office were notable entries on the streaming list, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, and trailing only sports. The Office just wrapped a multi-year deal on Netflix and has started streaming exclusively on Peacock.

Shows that air in marathons or those getting several hours of airtime every week — like morning news shows, The Voice or sports — exerted the most hold on viewers in the main.

Here are the year’s top programs in terms of percentage of overall viewing:

Here are the top shows of 2020 across live, time-shifted and streaming:

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