The Top CTV Shows in August 2021

Connected TV (CTV) has disconnected the traditional advertising model used in television. With the “walled gardens” using proprietary metrics to explain subscriber and audience rates it can seem harder than ever to understand how viewers are engaging with CTV. But TVision's metrics are transparent and agnostic, we accurately and passively measure engagement - including time spent, attention, co-viewing and bingeing- across hundreds of apps. 

Our August report on the CTV shows that are engaging audiences provides valuable insight into CTV viewer behaviors.  We can tell you, for example, that CTV viewers seem to devour new premium content as soon as it’s available, often by bingeing. And whether your target demo prefers reality programming or episodic comedy/drama, there’s an audience out there for you.

Furthermore, our attention metrics provide a basis for not only comparing one CTV show to another but for apples-to-apples comparisons between CTV and linear TV. We know, for example, that the highest-rated broadcast TV show in August for ad attention — and really, for an advertiser that’s what ought to matter most — was ABC’s Holey Moley 3D in 2D. On the other hand, the CTV program that drew the highest Attention score was Cooking with Paris on Netflix.

We can also tell you that Netflix viewers also enjoyed bingeing on Car Masters: Rust to Riches and that Disney+ scored highly for co-viewing — i.e., shows that parents and kids can watch together. No surprise there. But if you’re looking outside the box for family fare, our numbers also reveal a couple of surprises (see “Co-Viewing Content”).

Basically, our cutting-edge technology keeps you clued in to what’s happening in the world of cord-cutters and cord-nevers. 

One of the biggest takeaways from our monthly reports is how quickly things can change in CTV. In July, Virgin River was the undisputed leader of the streaming universe, in terms of the time viewers spent engaged with the show. By August it was in a distant second.

The new leader? Check out our lists below to see.

Top CTV Programs, by Share Time of Spent

Share of Time 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 below and draw your own conclusions. 

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

See the full list
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)

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Top OTT Programs, by Co-Viewing Rate

Co-Viewing Rate refers to the number of episode views with more than one person in front of the screen.

Parents are often looking for viewing experiences that they can share with their kids — and many advertisers, in turn, are eager to reach that cohort. That’s part of the reason why our Co-Viewing metric is so valuable. While it might not surprise you to learn that Disney+ dominated our Co-Viewing rankings in August, with five shows in the top 10, it’s still instructive to see which content resonated best with families.

With a Co-Viewing score of 76%, season 1 of the Disney+? The Mysterious Benedict Society topped our list, with the film adaptation Turner & Hooch (also season 1, and also from Disney+) next at 73%. Yet another debut season of Disney+ program, the What if…?, rounded out the top 3.

Crashing the top 5, and tying with season 1 of Monsters at Work (Disney+) at 71%, was perhaps the most interesting entry on our list: season 2 of AppleTV’s sports dramedy Ted Lasso. Unlike most of the Disney+ fare, which is essentially children’s programming that adults can also enjoy, Ted Lasso is adult programming that is also suitable for kids. Other than live sports programming (Ted Lasso is a fictional sports drama about an American coach of an English soccer team), such content is increasingly rare. Another program on our list that fits that description is the Musical Schmigadoon!, also on AppleTV.

The takeaway for advertisers? If you’re looking for family-friendly fare, you don’t necessarily have to limit yourselves to family-oriented streaming services.

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

See the full list
The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society (S1)

Turner & Hooch

Turner & Hooch (S1)

What If-1

What If...? (S1)

Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso (S2)

Monsters at Work

Monsters At Work (S1)

Top CTV Programs, by Binge Rate

Binge Rate measures the percentage of episode views where the viewer has watched 3 or more episodes in a single session.

No, binge rate isn’t a measure of your consumption level when the season’s first wave of “pumpkin spice” treats hits the shelves. Instead, we use it to determine which programs are the most “binge-worthy” — that is, those that prompt viewers to consume shows at a rate of at least three episodes per sitting.

Among CTV viewers, the clear winner in August might come as a surprise: season 3 of the reality restoration series Car Masters: Rust to Riches on Netflix, with 53% of viewers binge-watching.

What makes this show so binge-worthy? That “season 3” qualifier could be a key. While six of the shows in our top 10 were in their first season, none of those cracked the top four. Instead, joining Car Masters at the top of the binge-worthy charts were season 2 of Never Have I Ever, the coming-of-age series created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher; season 2 of Amazon Prime’s rom-com anthology Modern Love; and Season 5 of The Good Fight, the Paramount+ series that grew out of the CBS network drama The Good Wife.

It’s important to note that binge rate isn’t a measure of raw popularity. But it could reflect the level of hard-core viewers’ loyalty — and their anticipation for a new season’s worth of episodes.

That’s valuable information for advertisers. If a binge-worthy show fits your target demo, even if the audience numbers are relatively small, you could get a high ROI for your advertising or sponsorship budget by loading up during binge season.

Looking for a binge-worthy show that suits your demo? Start your search by reviewing our August top 10 CTV programs here.

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

See the full list
Car Master

Car Masters: Rust to Riches (S3)


Never Have I Ever (S2)

Modern Love

Modern Love (S2)

The Good Fight (1)

The Good Fight (S5)

Titletown High

Titletown High (S1)

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Top CTV Programs, by Attention Index

Attention Index measures how effectively a specific program keeps a viewer’s eyes on the TV screen while the viewer is in the room with the TV on. These were the top Streaming shows for Attention this month.

At TVision, our whole goal is to distill television metrics to essential data. For CTV programming, the essential metric is what we call “Attention to Visible.” Basically, it is a measure of how attentive viewers are while in the room when content is being streamed.

And by that measure, the premiere of “Cooking with Paris” (Hilton, of course) was the most compelling CTV viewing in August. Now, whether people’s eyes were glued to the screen because they genuinely liked what they saw or because of the potential train-wreck factor (“Paris Hilton’s new Netflix show takes all the joy out of cooking,” the Washington Post opined), is hard to say. But in Paris Hilton’s world, that never seems to matter.

There would appear to be little ambiguity behind the success of the second-rated CTV show for attention. Hulu’s McCartney 3, 2, 1 blasted off a six-part docu-series in July, and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney continued to command attention in August.

But don’t get the idea that celebrity-based reality shows were the only thing that clicked on CTV in August. From Joseph Gordon–Levitt’s Mr. Corman on Apple TV, at No. 3, through the Netflix post-WWII drama The Defeated at No. 10, traditional episodic TV was also well represented on our list. Proving once again that it pays to pay attention to what’s actually holding CTV viewers’ attention.

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

See the full list
Top CTV Programs, by Attention Index
Cooking with Paris

Cooking with Paris (S1)

McCartney 3 2 1

McCartney 3,2,1 (S1)


Heist (S1)

Mr Corman

Mr. Corman (S1)


Never Have I Ever (S2)

Learn about the #1 TV and CTV Attention Metrics Platform.

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The TV and CTV Attention Report