The Shows, Brands, and Ads That Captured Attention in August 2021

With summer on the wane and vacations ending, August is the month when reality hits. It’s also the month of reality hits, judging by TVision’s metrics for ad attention. In this month's report of the top shows, brands, and ads that captured viewer attention, two of the top four broadcast shows for ad attention were reality competitions: ABC’s Holey Moley 3D in 2D (46.1%) and NBC’s American Ninja Warrior (43.2%).

But in addition to reality, viewers also indulged in a bit of fantasy, with FOX’s Fantasy Island (43.2%) and another dynastic series, CW’s aptly named Dynasty (44.70%), rounding out the top four.

Confused? Don’t be. Those numbers reflect a multifaceted TV ecosystem, with programming and marketing campaigns that cater to seemingly every demo, daypart, and device. That’s why TVision has developed metrics that bring context and clarity to a dynamic, ever-evolving landscape. Dig deeper, and you’ll find out who’s actually watching which shows when, and also which ads are resonating with their intended audiences. Our numbers filter out the video wallpaper and background noise and zero in on the content and advertising creative that’s keeping eyes glued to the screen, which is the metric that really matters.

For linear TV in August, the top 10 brands for ad attention were a study in contrasts. From snack chips (Doritos) to dental implants (Clear Choice), sports betting (DraftKings) to investment firms (Fisher Investments), cars (Kia) to colon tests (Cologuard), our attention rankings indicate that no matter what you’re peddling, you can get your message in front of the right audience if you do your homework and apply the proper metrics.

TVision also provided revealing insights into Connected TV (CTV) viewership in August. Netflix retained its position as the top app for streaming, with four of the top five programs for the month in terms of time spent. New No. 1 Outer Banks (12%) doubled up on July’s No. 1, Virgin River, with two other newcomers (Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami) and Bake Squad (back to reality again) rounding out the top five. Only Apple TV’s eternally optimistic Ted Lasso, at No. 3, kept Netflix from sweeping the Top 5.

But a deeper dive into Ted Lasso shows why a more granular analysis, and monthly reporting, are so important. The show, starring Jason Sudeikis as an endearingly overmatched soccer coach, became a surprise hit of 2021. In addition to Time Spent, Ted Lasso also showed an increase in Co Viewing from July to August, an indication that it had achieved the much-desired cultural status of an experience that viewers want to share.

But another metric indicates that Ted Lasso could also suffer the fate of shows that end up falling as quickly as they rise. TVision’s Attention to Visible, an indication of how attentive viewers are while in the room, dropped for Ted Lasso between July and August. As always in TV, attracting attention is one thing — maintaining it is another.

For more on how TVision is using innovative technology and data analysis to reveal second-by-second engagement metrics for both programming and advertising, in both linear and CTV, contact us.

Top CTV Programs, by Share Time of Spent

Share Time of Spent ranks shows by the proportion of time viewers spent tuned to the content. For this report, we are specifically looking at time spent with new, original, episodic CTV programming.

The CTV audience is ravenous for fresh content. That’s apparent from our list of the 10 CTV shows that viewers spent the most time within August, which bore little resemblance to our July list. Leading the way was the Netflix offering Outer Banks, whose second season premiered on July 30. With a 12% share of time spent on new, original episodic content, Outer Banks didn’t match the numbers from the season three premiere of fellow Netflix drama Virgin River in July (17%), but it was enough to bump Virgin River down to a distant second (6%). Coming in third was AppleTV’s Ted Lasso (5%), the only non-Netflix entrant in our top 5.

Based on those numbers it’s tempting to draw conclusions about the formula for holding viewer attention. Want a hit series? Depict class struggle, like the one among the teenage inhabitants of coastal North Carolina in Outer Banks. With Virgin River, it’s a different class and a different coast, but a similar struggle. There’s also a fish-out-of-water dynamic, as nurse practitioner Mel Monroe (played by Alexandra Breckenridge) moves from LA to the remote Northern California town of Virgin River (not a real place, in case you were wondering). Ted Lasso takes that fish-out-of-water dynamic to an even greater extreme, with Jason Sudeikis portraying the titular character, an American college football coach who takes the helm of an English soccer team.

But just when you think you’ve got the hit formula figured out, the rest of the shows on our list put you right back to square one. There’s a true-crime saga (Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami), a reality show (Bake Squad), both on Netflix — even a musical (Schmigadoon! on AppleTV). At any rate, you can see the list here and draw your own conclusions.

Interested in more than the top 5? Click "See the Full List" to see more. Also, check out our August CTV Shows report here. 

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Outer Banks

Outer Banks (S2)

Virgin River

Virgin River (S3)

Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso (S2)

Cocaine Cowboys the kings of Miami

Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami (S1)

Bake Squad

Bake Squad (S1)

Top Linear TV Shows, by TV Ad Attention

TV Ad Attention measures how effectively an ad or ads held viewers’ Attention while they aired. It is measured as the percentage of all ad impressions in which the viewer was looking at the TV screen for two or more seconds.

Simply placing an ad in a popular television program is no guarantee of success. ROI also requires sticky creativity and an ad that’s targeted to the program’s demo. It also takes a kind of alchemy that makes the program content and the advertising somehow feel as if they’re just made for each other.

Whatever the secret sauce is, an eclectic mix shows had it in August, judging by the top 10 shows for ad attention. Broadly speaking, reality-based competitions were the dominant theme, with six of the top 10 fittings described. But beyond that, the content was all over the map — from Brooklyn Nine-Nine to Fantasy Island.

Cable viewers went in for a big dose of reality in August, which gave advertisers a range of options for optimal attention. From the childhood innocence of the Little League World Series on ESPN to the childish nonsense of MTV’s Ridiculousness, reality-based programming took nine of the top 10 spots for ad attention.

The lone exception? The aptly named Miracle Workers on TBS. So the takeaway for advertisers appears to be: Unless you’re expecting a miracle, stick with reality program if you want viewers to stick with your creative during commercial breaks.

Interested in more than the top 5? Click "See the Full List" to see more.

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Top Programs by TV Ad Attention, BROADCAST, August 2021
Holey Moley

Holey Moley 3D in 2D



American Ninja

American Ninja Warrior

Fantasy Island

Fantasy Island


Brooklyn Nine-Nine

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Top Programs by TV Ad Attention, CABLE, August 2021
Little League Baseball

Little League World Series

Jersey Shore

Jersey Shore Family Vacation

Families of the mafia

Families of the Mafia

Miracle Workers

Miracle Workers



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Top Brands for TV Ad Attention

The brands with the best ad attention scores are leveraging strong creative and making smart media-buying decisions - at the network, program, and daypart level.

It’s important for advertisers to understand that TVision can track eyes on the screen to an extraordinary level when determining the content viewers pay the most attention to. But it’s even more important to know that we can also track eyes on-screen during ads. As a result, we’re able to compile a ranking of the top brands for Ad Attention.Topping the charts for the most successful campaigns in August was Doritos, with an attention score of 42.2%, just a tick ahead of DraftKings at 42.17. Here’s the top 10, which is an eclectic list:

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Draft Kings




New Line Cinema

New Line Cinema



Top Ads for Creative Attention Score

TVision's Creative Attention Score measures how well an ad breaks through to capture attention compared to other ads in the same pod. Our second-by-second analysis helps marketers understand the content and audio sounds that drive engagement. 

A successful ad requires more than buying time on a popular show. The show also has to resonate with your target demo. Last, but certainly not least, your creative has to do as good a job at capturing (and holding) viewer attention as the programming content — a metric we call Creative Attention Score.

Top Ad for CAS Overall -  Ford - 'F-150 Clues'

Top Ad for CAS Female -  CeraVe - 'Hydrating Facial Cleanser'

Top Ad for CAS Male - Fisher Investments - 'Clearly Different Money Management'

For more information on Ad Attention, or TV or CTV Performance, contact us.

TV and CTV Attention Report
The TV and CTV Attention Report