Back to IndieWire

These Are the 100 Most-Watched TV Shows of the 2016-17 Season: Winners and Losers

Our complete ratings ranker of the top 100 shows on broadcast and cable TV.

“The Big Bang Theory,” NFL football, “The Walking Dead”

CBS/Shutterstock/AMC

It feels a bit antiquated to talk about ratings in 2017, when much of the television business remains transfixed on the streaming services – and it’s become accepted that Netflix and its competitors are never going to share any viewership data.

As viewers migrate to other platforms, ratings just tell part of the story. The numbers have become so deflated that CBS felt the need to point out in January that if you looked at “Live + 35” data that included more than a month’s worth of TV, DVR, VOD and streaming viewership, the network’s primetime entertainment series average is actually up vs. 16 years ago (when only live viewing was measured).

“We really need to make sure that we are finding a way to capture all the views and the viewers of our programs in this multi-platform landscape,” said ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey. “There is, at this point, no truly effective system to really capture all the views that are happening in a timely manner. If we can’t figure that out, particularly as a broadcast business, that’s going to be a big issue for us.”

For now, at least, this is what we have to go on, and last year’s leaders – Football, “The Walking Dead” and “The Big Bang Theory” – remain this year’s primetime winners. But they’re all on the decline – which, of course, is the story of linear TV in general.

READ MORE:
LAST YEAR: These Are the 100 Most-Watched TV Shows of the 2015-16 Season
Most-Watched Television Networks: Ranking 2016’s Winners and Losers
Top-Rated Telecasts of 2016: ‘The Walking Dead,’ Super Bowl, Oscars, Olympics Lead

IndieWire looked at the Season-to-Date rankers for broadcast and cable, using the most recent Live+7 ratings (which include seven days’ worth of DVR and video on-demand usage). Here’s a final look at some of the hits and misses of 2016–2017, followed by our complete list of the most-watched shows of the season, according to both adults 18-49 and total viewers.

NBC

Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, “This Is Us”

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

HIGHS

“This Is Us” and “Bull”: NBC and CBS both get new series bragging rights, depending on which measurement you’re looking at. NBC’s “This Is Us” was the darling of the TV season, and for good reason: It’s both the top-rated new series among adults 18-49 (4.8 rating – which in 2017 numbers, means it’s a force) and is now the top-rated broadcast drama, edging out “Empire.” CBS made sure to point out at its recent upfront presentation, however, that “Bull” is actually the year’s most-watched new TV series among total viewers, with 15.5 million to “This Is Us” at 15.3 million.

“The Bachelor,” “American Horror Story” and “South Park”: Three veteran shows, late in their run, actually improving year-to-year in the adults 18-49 demo? Virtually impossible. But “The Bachelor” (3.1 rating, up from 3.0), “American Horror Story” (3.4, up from 3.3) and “South Park” (1.8, from 1.7) made it so. Of course, those gains were small, and the larger story remains how viewers are moving from their TV screens to other devices… but these three shows are bucking the trends.

“60 Minutes” and “The Simpsons”: Sunday night stalwarts “60 Minutes” and “The Simpsons” also achieved virtually the impossible: They were flat year-to-year in the demo. And as we all know, “flat” is the new “up.” Both shows had reason to stay relevant: “60 Minutes” had a presidential election to wrap itself around, while “The Simpsons” made headlines with its 600th episode (!) and cool events like a virtual reality couch gag.

Joel McHale and cast of “The Great Indoors”

CBS

LOWS

Football, “The Walking Dead” and “The Big Bang Theory”: OK, hold on – don’t cry for any of these series, as they’re all still the most dominant programs on TV. But they’re all still subject to gravity. AMC’s “The Walking Dead” remains by far a dominant No. 1 among adults 18-49 (8.0 rating). No one comes close. “The Big Bang Theory” is the most-watched scripted show (19 million) and the top-rated scripted broadcast show among adults 18-49 (4.9 rating). And on the total viewers side, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” (20.1 million) towers over all. But when you’re the biggest in the land, it also means the drop is more pronounced. And as great as those numbers are, they’re substantial declines from last year. The NFL’s drops were across the board, impacting “Thursday Night Football” and “Monday Night Football” as well.

“24: Legacy,” “Hunted,” “2 Broke Girls” and “The Great Indoors”: One of these shows will ultimately be deemed the highest-rated series of the year to still be canceled. Fox hasn’t yet announced the fate of “24: Legacy” (punting the decision while star Corey Hawkins appears on Broadway), while CBS also hasn’t made a determination on reality series “Hunted.” Should either “24: Legacy” (2.1 rating) or “Hunted” (2.0) be canned, they’ll get the honors. But for now, that leaves the Joel McHale sitcom “The Great Indoors” and the long-running “2 Broke Girls,” both of which have most definitely been canceled, as the top-rated (1.8) ax so far. (NBC’s “Timeless” would have received these honors, until its two-days-later reprieve.)

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “No Tomorrow”: You must be enjoying The CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” on other platforms, because for the second year in a row it was the lowest-rated broadcast network series (0.3 rating), tied with “No Tomorrow,” which won’t be having any more tomorrows. It’s a reminder again that The CW isn’t run based on ratings, given its output deals.

Here are the top series rankers according to adults 18-49 and total viewers, featuring seven days of time-shifted viewing. Most recent data is through May 14; these ratings will be updated as new numbers come in.

TOP 100 SHOWS, ADULTS 18-49

America’s most-watched series of the 2016-2017 season in the key advertising demographic (measured in ratings points) are …

1

The Walking Dead AMC

8.0

2

NFL Sunday Night Football NBC

6.9

3

NFL Thursday Night Football NBC/NFL Network

5.2

4

NFL Thursday Night Football CBS/NFL Network

5.0

5

The Big Bang Theory CBS

4.9

6

This Is Us NBC

4.8

7

Empire Fox

4.3

8

NFL Monday Night Football ESPN

3.9

9

Modern Family ABC

3.7

10

Grey’s Anatomy ABC

3.5

11

American Horror Story FX

3.4

12

The Bachelor ABC

3.1

13

The Voice (Monday + Tuesday) NBC

3.0

14

Designated Survivor ABC

2.9

15

 How To Get Away With Murder ABC

Scandal ABC

2.6

17

Survivor CBS

Talking Dead AMC

NCIS CBS

Chicago Fire NBC

The Goldbergs ABC

2.5

22

Law & Order: SVU NBC

Criminal Minds CBS

Black-ish ABC

Lethal Weapon Fox

Chicago PD  NBC

2.4

27

Bull CBS

Kevin Can Wait CBS

Speechless ABC

2.2

30

 The Simpsons Fox

 American Housewife ABC

 The Middle ABC

 Dancing With the Stars ABC

The Blacklist NBC

Timeless NBC

Chicago Med NBC

24: Legacy Fox

Love & Hip Hop Atlanta 6 VH1

2.1

39

Scorpion CBS

Star Fox

Hunted CBS

Family Guy Fox

2.0

43

Life in Pieces CBS

Mom CBS

The Good Place NBC

NCIS: New Orleans CBS

The Flash The CW

Gotham Fox

Saturday Night Football ABC

1.9

50

Lucifer Fox

Blue Bloods CBS

The Great Indoors CBS

The Mick Fox

NCIS: Los Angeles CBS

Blindspot NBC

Hawaii Five-O CBS

60 Minutes CBS

South Park Comedy Central

Prison Break Fox

Little Big Shots NBC

1.8

62

 Love and Hip Hop 7 VH1

 Superstore NBC

 Last Man Standing ABC

 Shark Tank ABC

Fresh off the Boat ABC

Code Black CBS

The Wall NBC

1.7

69

Thursday Night Football NFL Network (without CBS or NBC)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ABC

MacGyver CBS

Hell’s Kitchen Fox

Chicago Justice NBC

New Girl Fox

Real Housewives of Atlanta Bravo

Better Call Saul AMC

Gold Rush Discovery

Man With a Plan CBS

Teen Mom II (Season 7B) MTV

Love & Hip Hop Hollywood 3 VH1

1.6

81

Son of Zorn Fox

The Amazing Race CBS

Once Upon a Time ABC

Westworld HBO

1.5

85

Masterchef Junior Fox

Superior Donuts CBS

Notorious ABC

The Last Man on Earth Fox

Bones Fox

Shades of Blue NBC

Street Outlaws Discovery

Grimm NBC

Pure Genius CBS

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Fox

Quantico ABC

Secrets and Lies ABC

Into the Badlands AMC

Teen Mom (Season 6+6B) MTV

Pitch Fox

1.4

100

Bob’s Burgers Fox

Madam Secretary CBS

Celebrity Apprentice NBC

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Bravo

Taken NBC

Curse of Oak Island History

The Odd Couple CBS

Vikings History

Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders CBS

The Real O’Neals ABC

Chrisley Knows Best USA

WWE Raw USA

Supergirl The CW

APB Fox

1.3

Source: Nielsen Media Research, 2016-2017 season to date through May 14, 2017, in ratings points. Nielsen prelim Live+7 Day, Prime, Originals only, Programs with majority of telecasts airing in season, Top 100 ranked on A18-49 rating. Excludes: Repeats, Specials, Post-Season Sports, Pre/Post Sports Commentary, Mini-Series (<5 telecasts in season) and News.

TOP 100 SHOWS, TOTAL VIEWERS

America’s most-watched series of the 2016-2017 season are …

1

NFL Sunday Night Football NBC

20.1

2

The Big Bang Theory CBS

19.0

3

NCIS CBS

18.4

4

NFL Thursday Night Football NBC/NFL Network 

17.1

5

The Walking Dead AMC

16.4

6

Bull CBS

15.5

7

This Is Us NBC

15.3

8

NFL Thursday Night Football CBS/NFL Network

14.8

9

 Blue Bloods CBS

14.1

10

NCIS: New Orleans CBS

13.4

11

Dancing with the Stars ABC

The Voice (Monday) NBC

60 Minutes CBS

12.6

14

NCIS: Los Angeles CBS

The Voice (Tuesday) NBC

12.5

16

Hawaii Five-O CBS

12.2

17

Designated Survivor ABC

12.1

18

NFL Monday Night Football ESPN

11.5

19

Grey’s Anatomy ABC

Empire Fox

11.2

21

Madam Secretary CBS

11.1

22

Criminal Minds CBS

10.9

23

Modern Family ABC

10.8

24

Chicago Fire NBC

Scorpion CBS

10.7

26

Survivor CBS

10.5

27

 Little Big Shots NBC

10.3

28

Chicago PD NBC

10.1

29

Chicago Med NBC

9.9

30

MacGyver CBS

9.8

31

 The Blacklist NBC

9.7

32

Mom CBS

9.4

33

 Kevin Can Wait CBS

Code Black CBS

Lethal Weapon Fox

9.2

36

The Bachelor ABC

9.0

37

Law & Order: SVU NBC

8.8

38

Scandal ABC

8.6

39

 Chicago Justice NBC

8.5

40

The Great Indoors CBS

8.4

41

Last Man Standing ABC

8.3

42

Life in Pieces CBS

8.2

43

Timeless NBC

8.0

44

Pure Genius CBS

How To Get Away With Murder ABC

7.9

46

The Middle ABC

The Goldbergs ABC

7.8

48

Elementary CBS 

7.6

49

Man with a Plan CBS

7.5

50

Blindspot NBC

Black-ish ABC

7.4

51

24: Legacy Fox

Superior Donuts CBS

Hunted CBS

7.3

54

Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders CBS

Shades of Blue NBC

7.1

56

American Housewife ABC

2 Broke Girls CBS

Speechless ABC

7.0

59

Taken NBC

6.9

60

Doubt CBS

6.8

61

Shark Tank ABC

The Wall NBC

6.6

63

Undercover Boss CBS

6.5

64

The Amazing Race CBS

6.4

65

American Horror Story FX

6.3

66

Blacklist: Redemption NBC

6.2

67

Notorious ABC

Lucifer Fox

Grimm NBC

6.1

70

Saturday Night Football ABC

The Good Place NBC

The Odd Couple CBS

Star Fox

6.0

74

Dateline Friday NBC

5.9

75

Conviction ABC

5.7

76

Bones Fox

America’s Funniest Home Videos ABC

Talking Dead AMC

Trial & Error NBC

5.5

80

20/20 ABC

Secrets and Lies ABC

Dr. Ken ABC

5.3

83

Gotham Fox

Superstore NBC

Dateline Sunday NBC

APB Fox

5.2

87

Fresh Off The Boat ABC

5.1

88

Great American Baking Show ABC

To Tell the Truth ABC

5.0

90

48 Hours CBS

The Simpsons Fox

The Catch ABC

4.9

93

Masterpiece: Sherlock PBS

Celebrity Apprentice NBC

Quantico ABC

Gold Rush Discovery

Hell’s Kitchen Fox

Shots Fired Fox

4.8

99

The Flash The CW

Masterchef Junior Fox

Major Crimes TNT

Pitch Fox

4.7

Source: Nielsen Media Research, 2016-2017 season to date through May 14, 2017, in millions. Nielsen prelim Live+7 Day, Prime, Originals only, Programs with majority of telecasts airing in season, Top 100 ranked on P2+ rating. Excludes: Repeats, Specials, Post-Season Sports, Pre/Post Sports Commentary, Mini-Series (<5 telecasts in season) and News.

Stay on top of the latest TV news! Sign up for our TV email newsletter here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged , ,