Yikes, Only One Network TV Show's Ratings And Viewership Actually Went Up During COVID Pandemic

taye diggs in all american

With COVID pandemic worries finally tapering off for millions of people across the U.S., the entertainment industry is slowly reestablishing a sense of normalcy across both film and television. While TV networks and streaming services definitely weren't as hampered as movie theaters across 2020-2021, network schedules and audience numbers were indeed impacted in negative ways, even though more people than ever were cooped up at home. Despite all the hardships and mega-competition, though, exactly ONE series managed to defy the odds by increasing both its total viewership average and its 18-49 rating, and it's probably not what most viewers would expect.

While a small handful of broadcast series were able to increase their total viewership numbers alone, The CW's ensemble football drama All American stands proud as the only show on network TV to raise its total average with viewers 18-49 years old, that ever-important age group that keeps the ad money rolling in, according to THR. The fact that All American also boosted its overall audience size is the icing, candles and delectable decorations on the cake.

One reason why All American's uptick is arguably surprising is that, despite its success on a small scale, the drama is very far from being one of the most popular shows on TV, which is evident in the details. All American's 18.6% increase in total viewership brings it to an average of 220,000 pairs of eyes watching each episode, while the demo rating's 25% lift raised it to a 0.5 from a 0.4. In comparison, Law & Order: SVU boosted its total viewership by 320,000 people year over year, which is 100K more than All American's entire audience. (It was also only the fourth-ranked show with American in the title, behind Idol, Housewife and Ninja Warrior.) Still, to be the only show on TV to come out ahead at all is a mega-victory for The CW hit.

All American has had huge success on Netflix, with fans watching the heck out of its first two seasons once they debuted on the streaming service, and it's likely that Season 3 will be just as sought out. Netflix popularity doesn't always lead to primetime increases, but it seems to have happened with the sports drama. And The CW has no doubt been paying close attention to the show's rise, considering it was back in February 2021 when the network announced the impending spinoff series All American: Homecoming.

The aforementioned Law & Order: SVU is the biggest winner beyond All American, thanks to its hefty viewer lift supplied largely by the return of Christopher Meloni's Elliot Stabler for L&O: Organized Crime and all that crossover magic with Mariska Hargitay. The only other series that can celebrate such increases during the 2020-2021 TV season are all unscripted: CBS' 60 Minutes, NBC's The Wall and ABC's Shark Tank. SVU, 60 Minutes and The Wall also didn't dip in their respective demo ratings, hitting totals equaling those from the 2019-2020 season, which ABC's Dancing with the Stars also managed to do with its first Tyra Banks-hosted season.

All American Season 3 episodes air Monday nights on The CW at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.