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The 50 Most-Watched TV Shows of Summer 2017: Winners and Losers

Our complete ratings ranker of this summer's top shows on broadcast and cable TV, plus the highs (Game of Thrones!) and lows (Megyn Kelly).

“Game of Thrones”

HBO

Summer 2017 will unfortunately be remembered for its real-life horrors, from Nazi-loving white supremacists marching in Charlottesville to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Americans looking to escape the barrage of bad news didn’t do it in the movie theaters, where domestic box office was at its lowest in decades. But they did flock to television — and two shows in particular.

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” aren’t new, but they are small-screen staples that experienced tremendous ratings lifts this season. Even as audiences continue to move to streaming services and other platforms, there’s still room for appointment TV, as viewers still watch linearly (or, at least, relatively fast via time-shifting) in order to stay in the pop culture conversation.

IndieWire has compiled the summer 2017 rankers for broadcast and cable, using the most recent Live+3 ratings (which include three days’ worth of DVR and video on-demand usage). Here’s a final look at some of the hits and misses of the summer, followed by our complete list of the most-watched shows of June/July/August, according to both adults 18-49 and total viewers.

AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- "Live Show 3" -- Pictured: (l-r) Mel B, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

“America’s Got Talent” judges Mel B, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell

Trae Patton/NBC

Highs

“Game of Thrones”: What else can be said about “Game of Thrones,” other than it’s a summer giant. In Live+3 ratings alone, it averaged a 6.0 rating among adults 18-49 over seven episodes, far ahead of any other program this summer. Doubly impressive: Because it’s a pay service, HBO is available in a fraction of the households that most networks can be found. The channel faced piracy concerns, and “Game of Thrones” is one of the most illegally download programs on the Internet. And yet, the show not only posts record ratings from linear viewing, but a growing audience is actually accessing “Thrones” via streaming. The show averaged 13.1 million viewers throughout the season; after three days of DVR and VOD usage, the finale on Aug. 27 averaged a 6.9 rating in the demo and 14.9 million viewers overall.

“America’s Got Talent”: Now in its 12th season, “AGT” continues to be a juggernaut for NBC, delivering ratings similar or even up vs. last year. Featuring judges Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Simon Cowell, plus host Tyra Banks, “AGT” is also a hit with time-shifting audiences: This season, it’s growing by 37% among adults 18-49 after seven days of DVR and VOD usage, and adding 3.4 million viewers after seven days. “‘America’s Got Talent’ is on fire right now,” NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said this summer. “Season 12 is actually its most watched season ever. How many shows go up these days year to year?” The talent competition’s finale airs Sept. 20.

“World of Dance”: Viewers are making room for more J-Lo. The dance competition series was an immediate hit for NBC, and has improved its timeslot 43% vs. last summer in adults 18-49. In Live+3 ratings, “World of Dance” averaged 9.6 million viewers, putting it behind only “AGT” and “Game of Thrones” in total viewers. According to NBC, it was the No. 1 alternative summer premiere in nine years, making it an easy choice to renew for next summer. Jennifer Lopez executive produces and serves as a judge, along with Derek Hough, Ne-Yo and host Jenna Dewan Tatum.

“The Sinner”: According to USA, the Jessica Biel drama has quickly become the No.1 new cable series of 2017 with adults 18-49 and total viewers. In Live+3 ratings, “The Sinner” averages 3.6 million viewers and a 1.1 rating in adults 18-49. “The Sinner” has also garnered plenty of critical acclaim during its eight-episode run. IndieWire has called the show “satisfying” and “well-executed.” As USA Network ponders how to produce another season of the limited-run series, “The Sinner” will air through Sept. 20 on USA.

Telemundo: Not too long ago, Univision was such a dominant force in Spanish-language TV that smaller networks like Telemundo had to settle for ratings scraps. Not any more. Telemundo is coming off its best ratings performance yet, leading the summer as the dominant No. 1 Spanish network in weekday primetime. Also in Monday-through-Friday prime, Telemundo was even the No. 3 network regardless of language in August among adults 18-34, beating CBS, Fox and every cable network. The network was buoyed by successful telenovelas “El Señor de los Cielos” and “Sin Senos Si Hay Paraiso.”

NBC News - Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly - Pictured: Megyn Kelly, Anchor, “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" -- (Photo by: Brian Doben/NBC News)

“Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly”

Brian Doben/NBC News

Lows

Megyn Kelly: NBC News should have seen this coming. The network’s big $17 million investment was a bust from the very beginning, as Megyn Kelly remains a polarizing figure on both sides of the political aisle. Liberals don’t trust her from her Fox News days, and conservatives see her as an enemy of Donald Trump (and perhaps as a traitor looking to go mainstream). Immediate missteps on “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly” included poorly received interviews with Vladimir Putin and Alex Jones; softer interviews after that didn’t help. The show ended its run at the end of July, as Kelly moves her focus to a new morning show, “Megyn Kelly Today.” “Sunday Night” is supposed to return next spring – but whether it actually will is up for debate.

“Twin Peaks”: From a purely linear ratings standpoint, “Twin Peaks” was a disaster. The 18-hour series, which concludes Labor Day weekend, has averaged just 372,000 viewers, putting it just below “Food Paradises” on the Travel Channel and “Tiny House, Big Living” on DIY. (In comparison, Showtime’s “Ray Donovan” attracts 1.9 million viewers on the same night.) But the revival of “Twin Peaks” was never about linear numbers for Showtime, which has labeled the show a success based on multi-platform viewing — and, more important to its bottom line, subscriptions. “Even though its overall numbers are not as big as our biggest shows, it’s had a very palpable effect on subscribers for multiple months now,” Showtime president/CEO David Nevins said last month. “It is not as big as our biggest shows, but it’s not so low either. It has a way higher proportion of streaming than anything else.”

Boy Bands: In what may be a warning sign for the next crop of music competition series coming (or returning, in the case of “American Idol”) to TV, ABC’s summer entry “Boy Band” was pretty much ignored by viewers. The show averaged 2.7 million viewers, and a lowly 0.6 rating with adults 18-49. (It hovered next to fellow CBS summer disappointment “Candy Crush”). But there’s disappointing, and then there’s death: Viceland’s “American Boyband,” was one of the least-watched programs on any network this summer, averaging just 25,000 viewers. Call this trend “No Direction.”

“Will”: Pity poor William Shakespeare, whose summer kicked off with a ridiculous controversy over a free Shakespeare show in New York City. From there, TNT’s hipster “Will,” a period tale that told the story of young Will Shakespeare with a modern beat, failed to deliver — averaging just 697,000 viewers (and 0.2 in the demo). Shonda Rhimes’ “Still Star-Crossed,” a sequel of sorts to “Romeo & Juliet,” was also a dud, averaging 1.6 million viewers (and 0.4 in the demo). A reminder to programmers that every series pitch that glitters is not gold.

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 50 Shows of Summer 2017, Adults 18-49

America’s top-rated series of the summer season in the key advertising demographic (measured in ratings points/audience share) are …

1

Game of Thrones HBO

6.0/22

2

America’s Got Talent (Tuesday) NBC

3.3/14

3

America’s Got Talent (Wednesday) NBC

2.5/11

4

Big Brother (Thursday) CBS 

World of Dance NBC 

Big Brother (Wednesday) CBS

2.4/10

2.4/10

2.4/11

7

Big Brother (Sunday) CBS

2.3/10

8

The Bachelorette ABC

2.1/9

9

Bachelor In Paradise ABC

1.9/7

10

SNL Weekend Update Prime NBC

1.8/8

11

American Ninja Warrior NBC 

Fear the Walking Dead AMC 

Ballers HBO 

Bachelor In Paradise (Tuesday) ABC

1.6/7

1.6/6

1.6/6

1.6/6

15

Marlon (9pm) NBC 

Teen Mom 2 MTV 

Celebrity Family Feud ABC 

Love & Hip-Hop Hollywood 4 VH1 

Masterchef Fox

1.4/6

1.4/6

1.4/6

1.4/6

1.4/6

20

Marlon (9:30pm) NBC 

Spartan: Team Challenge NBC 

WWE Entertainment USA  

1.2/5

1.2/5

1.2/5

23

The Sinner USA 

Midnight, Texas NBC 

Real Housewives of OC Bravo 

Power Starz 

The Wall NBC 

Dateline Friday NBC

1.1/5

1.1/5

1.1/4

1.1/4

1.1/5

1.1/5

29

Beat Shazam Fox 

Hollywood Game Night NBC 

El Señor De Los Cielos (Mon.) Telemundo 

Real Housewives of NYC Bravo 

So You Think You Can Dance Fox 

Little Big Shots: Forever Young NBC 

El Señor De Los Cielos (Tue.) Telemundo 

El Señor De Los Cielos (Wed.) Telemundo 

El Señor De Los Cielos (Thu.) Telemundo 

1.0/5

1.0/5

1.0/4

1.0/4

1.0/4

1.0/5

1.0/4

1.0/4

1.0/4

38

 Night Shift NBC

The $100,000 Pyramid ABC 

Steve Harvey’s Funderdome ABC 

WWE Smackdown USA 

El Señor De Los Cielos (Fri.) Telemundo 

Have and Have Nots OWN 

Claws TNT 

The Carmichael Show (9:30pm) NBC 

Impractical Jokers TruTV

Baller Wives VH1

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/3

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/3

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/3

48

The Challenge: Dirty 30 MTV 

Below Deck Mediterranean Bravo 

20/20 (Friday) ABC 

Leah Remini: Scientology A&E

Battle of the Network Stars ABC 

Love Connection Fox 

Snowfall FX 

Downward Dog ABC

The Gong Show ABC

Ink Master Spike

Southern Charm Bravo 

Insecure HBO

Peacher AMC

What Would You Do? ABC

Sin Senos Si Hay Paraiso (M.) Telemundo 

Project Runway Lifetime 

Sin Senos Si Hay Paraiso (T.) Telemundo 

The F Word Fox 

Zoo CBS 

Sin Senos Si Hay Pariso (W.) Telemundo 

Naked and Afraid XL Discovery 

Queen Sugar OWN

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/4

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/4

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/3

Source: Nielsen Media Research, summer 2017 season to date through May 14, 2017, in ratings points. Nielsen prelim Live+3 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, programs airing just one time and news.

Top 50 Shows, Total Viewers

America’s most-watched series of summer 2017 are …

1

America’s Got Talent (Tuesday) NBC

15.28

2

Game of Thrones HBO

13.05

3

America’s Got Talent (Wednesday) NBC

12.60

4

World of Dance NBC

9.58

5

Big Brother (Wednesday) CBS

7.53

6

Big Brother (Thursday) CBS

7.48

7

Big Brother (Sunday) CBS

7.40

8

The Bachelorette ABC

7.32

9

 Celebrity Family Feud ABC

7.05

10

Little Big Shots: Forever Young NBC

6.82

11

SNL Weekend Update Prime NBC

6.57

12

American Ninja Warrior NBC

6.44

13

Bachelor in Paradise ABC

5.77

14

Marlon (9 p.m.) NBC

5.60

15

Dateline Friday NBC

5.43

16

Night Shift NBC

5.32

17

The Wall NBC

5.30

18

$100,000 Pyramid ABC

5.04

19

Bachelor in Paradise (Tuesday) ABC

4.90

20

Steve Harvey’s Funderdome ABC

4.80

21

Salvation CBS

4.65

22

 Hollywood Game Night NBC

4.57

23

Masterchef Fox

4.47

24

Marlon (9:30pm) NBC

4.44

25

Spartan: Team Challenge NBC

4.34

26

 Midnight, Texas NBC

4.30

27

20/20 (Friday) ABC

4.27

28

 Fear the Walking Dead AMC

3.93

29

Zoo CBS

3.89

30

The Carmichael Show (9pm) NBC

3.84

31

Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly NBC

3.80

32

 Downward Dog ABC

3.73

33

48 Hours CBS 

What Would You Do? ABC

3.64

35

So You Think You Can Dance Fox

3.63

36

The Sinner USA

3.57

37

WWE Entertainment USA

3.38

38

Dateline Mystery NBC

3.37

39

The Gong Show ABC 

Ballers HBO

3.31

41

Battle of the Network Stars ABC 

3.27

42

Beat Shazam Fox

3.25

43

Alaskan Bush People Discovery

3.15

44

Have and Have Nots OWN

3.10

45

The Good Witch Hallmark

2.94

46

The Last Ship TNT

2.90

47

In an Instant ABC

2.89

48

Love Connection Fox

2.83

49

CBSN: On Assignment CBS

2.79

50

WWE Smackdown USA 

Real Housewives of OC Bravo

2.78

Source: Nielsen Media Research, summer 2017, in millions. Nielsen prelim Live+3 Day, Prime, Originals only, Top 50 ranked on P2+ rating. Excludes: Repeats, specials, post-season sports, pre/post sports commentary, one-time airings and news.

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