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Sports dominates 2015 top 100 live viewing TV programs, per Nielsen

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton, left, talks to Denver

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton, left, talks to Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning (18) after the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. Credit: AP / David J. Phillip

Amid the customary deluge of data in Nielsen’s Year in Sports Media Report, the 2015 numbers further illustrated why sports programming is such a valuable commodity in the modern media business.

For example, 14 of the top 100 TV programs watched in a real-time setting (i.e., not recorded by the viewer) in 2005 were sports-related. In 2015, the figure rose to 93.

Why? Because while people still mostly watch sports live – 95 percent of the time in the fourth quarter last year, according to Nielsen – only two-thirds watched “general drama” shows live.

Watching live, of course, usually translates into watching more commercials.

Live viewing also leads to more social media interaction. Nielsen said that in 2015, only 1.4 percent of all TV programs were about sports, but 49.7 percent of all TV-related Twitter posts were about sports.

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