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The 50 Most-Watched TV Shows of Summer 2018: Winners and Losers

Our complete ratings ranker of this summer's top shows on broadcast and cable TV, plus the highs ("Yellowstone") and lows (Netflix talk shows) of the off-season.

AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- "Live Quarter Finals Results 3" Episode 1316 -- Pictured: (l-r) Howie Mandel, Mel B, Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

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

Trae Patton/NBC

Talk about a reversal of fortunes: While the movie box office world recovered this summer after a disappointing 2017, television — at least the programming that’s measured by Nielsen ratings — took a dip. Blame some of that on the lack of “Game of Thrones,” which dominated last summer among adults 18-49.

NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” still scored plenty of eyeballs, as once again the summer’s most-watched program. But Simon Cowell and company were still down to 14.56 million viewers, vs. 15.28 million last year.

IndieWire has compiled the summer 2018 rankings 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 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.

"Yellowstone" premieres Wednesday, June 20 on Paramount Network. Kevin Costner stars as John Dutton.

Kevin Costner in “Yellowstone

KEVIN LYNCH FOR PARAMOUNT NETWORK

Highs

“Yellowstone”: The new Paramount Network is off to a strong start, thanks to “Yellowstone,” the most-watched cable series of the summer. The drama, starring Kevin Costner as the owner of America’s largest contiguous cattle ranch, was the most-watched new scripted drama on ad-supported cable since 2016, according to the channel. The show averaged 5 million viewers this summer and has been renewed for a second season. Paramount relaunched in January, from its previous identity as Spike, with the limited-run series “Waco,” followed by the launch of comedy “American Woman” in June.

“Making It” and “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back”: Established TV stars trying out new reality formats were a win for the networks this summer. The shows tied as the summer’s No. 1 new series among adults 18-49 (1.4 rating), while “Making It” was the most-watched new series of the summer (5.36 million viewers). Both shows have been renewed for second seasons.

“Making It” reunites “Parks and Recreation” stars Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman as they host a crafts competition series. “Seeing firsthand the imagination of a true craftsman and, literally, watching them create something out of nothing is pure gold,” said Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president, alternative and reality group.

In “24 Hours to Hell and Back,” Ramsay finds failing restaurants and works with them to turn things around in 24 hours — re-interviewing staff, creating a new menu and renovating the space. “Gordon gives 100 percent in everything he does, and he took on the task of turning these restaurants around wholeheartedly,” said Rob Wade, Fox’s president of alternative entertainment and specials.

Code Black”: CBS didn’t renew the medical drama for a third season, but the show has performed well for the network this summer — it’s the most-watched scripted original of the off-season, averaging 8.79 million viewers. Earlier this month, CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl hinted that the network might try and find a way to bring it back after all: “It’s doing incredibly well. It’s a well-done show, and we would like to figure out a way to maybe make it work. Economics were a little challenged on it, but it’s certainty performing well, and we are going to take a look.”

The Break with Michelle Wolf Sarah Huckabee Sanders

“The Break with Michelle Wolf”

Netflix

Lows

Talk shows: Netflix’s surprise cancellations of “The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale” and “The Break with Michelle Wolf” was a reminder that the streaming service still hasn’t quite figured out how to handle timely talk shows, especially when the idea of “late night” doesn’t really apply in an on-demand universe. (Netflix had previously canceled “Chelsea,” its talk show from Chelsea Handler.) Of course, it wasn’t just streaming shows: BET also canceled its entry, “The Rundown with Robin Theade,” and Comedy Central scrapped “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper.”

“Shooter” and “Colony”: USA network cleared the deck a bit this summer, ending both series after their third seasons. “Shooter” was initially delayed in the wake of mass shootings, but when it eventually premiered, it performed well for the network. But the show lost steam by its third season and was canceled this summer. “Colony” opened to strong reviews and ratings in 2016, but also saw its audience erode over time.

“Six,” “Famous In Love,” “Nobodies,” “People of Earth”: The History, Freeform, TV Land, and TBS series were cut after their respective sophomore seasons.

Here are the top series rankers for the summer according to adults 18-49 and total viewers, featuring seven days of time-shifted viewing.

Top 50 Shows of Summer 2018, 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

America’s Got Talent (Tuesday) NBC

2.9/13

2

Big Brother (Thursday) CBS 

Big Brother (Wednesday) CBS 

2.1/10

2.1/10

4

The Bachelorette ABC 

Big Brother (Sunday) CBS

2.0/9

2.0/9

6

World of Dance NBC 

1.8/8

7

Bachelor In Paradise (Tuesday) ABC

1.7/8

8

Fear the Walking Dead AMC 

Masterchef Fox

1.5/6

1.5/6

10

Masterchef (Wednesday 8pm) Fox 

Celebrity Family Feud ABC 

Love & Hip Hop Hollywood VH1 

Teen Mom II MTV

1.4/7

1.4/7

1.4/7

1.4/6

14

24 Hours to Hell and Back Fox 

Making It NBC 

American Ninja Warrior NBC

1.3/6

1.3/6

1.3/6

17

Code Black CBS 

Better Call Saul AMC 

1.2/6

1.2/5

19

Real Housewives of Orange County Bravo 

Basketball Wives VH1 

Keeping Up With the Kardashians E! 

WWE Raw USA 

1.1/5

1.1/5

1.1/5

1.1/5

23

Dateline NBC (Monday) NBC 

The Four Fox 

$100,000 Pyramid ABC 

Real Housewives of New York Bravo

1.0/5

1.0/5

1.0/4

1.0/4

27

Shades of Blue NBC 

Below Deck Mediterranean Bravo 

Elementary CBS 

The Challenge: Final Reckoning MTV 

Claws TNT 

So You Think You Can Dance Fox

Snowfall FX 

Yellowstone Paramount 

Street Outlaws Discovery 

Floribama Shore MTV 

90 Day Fiance: Before 90 TLC 

Castaways ABC 

To Tell the Truth ABC 

Power Starz

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/4

0.9/4

41

Proposal ABC 

Marlon (9 pm) NBC 

El Señor De Los Cielos (Wed.) Telemundo 

The Sinner USA  

El Señor De Los Cielos (Mon.) Telemundo 

El Señor De Los Cielos (Thu.) Telemundo

Dr. Pimple Popper TLC

Beat Shazam Fox 

Live PD A&E 

WWE Smackdown USA

El Señor De Los Cielos (Tues.) Telemundo

Chrisley Knows Best USA 

Marlon (9:30 pm) NBC 

TKO: Total Knock Out CBS 

Running Wild with Bear Grylls NBC 

Black Ink Crew Chicago VH1 

Animal Kingdom TNT 

Ballers HBO 

El Señor De Los Cielos (Fri.) Telemundo

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/5

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/4

0.8/3

0.8/3

0.8/4

Source: Preliminary Live+7 Days, Prime, Original telecasts only. High-rated Broadcast and Cable programs that premiered before 5/28/18 and have the majority of telecasts in summer are included (through Top 100, A18-49); 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 2018 are …

1

America’s Got Talent (Tuesday) NBC

14.56

2

Code Black CBS

8.79

3

World of Dance NBC

7.46

4

The Bachelorette ABC

7.27

5

Celebrity Family Feud ABC

7.22

6

Big Brother (Wednesday) CBS

7.08

7

Big Brother (Thursday) CBS

7.03

8

 Big Brother (Sunday) CBS

6.84

9

Elementary CBS

6.51

10

American Ninja Warrior NBC

5.79

11

Bachelor in Paradise (Tuesday) ABC

5.54

12

Dateline NBC (Monday) NBC

5.50

tie

$100,000 Pyramid ABC

5.50

14

Making It NBC

5.36

15

Shades of Blue NBC

5.34

16

Yellowstone Paramount

5.06

17

Masterchef Fox

4.98

18

Masterchef (8 pm) Fox

4.95

19

Undercover Boss CBS

4.78

20

 To Tell the Truth ABC

4.37

21

24 Hours to Hell and Back Fox

4.28

22

Take Two ABC

4.22

23

 Fear the Walking Dead AMC

4.00

24

Castaways ABC

3.99

25

 Match Game ABC

3.82

26

Proposal ABC

3.77

27

Quantico ABC

3.67

28

So You Think You Can Dance Fox

3.64

29

 Running Wild with Bear Grylls NBC

3.59

30

TKO: Total Knock Out CBS 

3.52

31

Better Call Saul AMC 

3.47

32

Marlon (9 pm) NBC

3.44

33

The Four Fox

3.27

34

The Gong Show ABC

3.14

35

Reverie NBC

3.11

36

WWE Raw USA 

3.09

37

What Would You Do? ABC 

3.00

38

The Sinner USA

2.99

39

Marlon (9:30 pm) NBC

2.98

tie

Trial and Error (9 pm) NBC

2.98

41

The Last Defense ABC

2.86

42

Dr. Pimple Popper TLC

2.80

43

Love & Hip Hop Hollywood VH1

2.76

44

Real Housewives of Orange County Bravo

2.66

45

Beat Shazam Fox

2.63

46

Deadliest Catch Discovery

2.56

47

WWE Smackdown USA

2.53

48

90 Day Fiance: Before 90 TLC

2.52

49

Animal Kingdom TNT

2.51

50

Flip or Flop HGTV

2.49

tie

Trial and Error (9:30 pm) NBC

2.49

tie

Teen Mom II MTV

2.49

In millions. Source: Preliminary Live+7 Days, Prime, Original telecasts only. High-rated Broadcast and Cable programs that premiered before 5/28/18 and have the majority of telecasts in summer are included (through Top 100, A18-49); Excludes: Repeats, specials, post-season sports, pre/post sports commentary, programs airing just one time and news.

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