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Top Rated Shows of 2018: Super Bowl LII, ‘This Is Us,’ ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Dominate

Also, every episode of the "Roseanne" revival made it on this year's list of top 100 broadcast and cable telecasts. Too bad for ABC that she got all racist on us.

“The Big Bang Theory,” Super Bowl LII and “This Is Us” led this year’s top telecasts ranker.

CBS/Shutterstock/NBC

IndieWire Best of 2018

Move over, Oscars. The Academy Awards kudocast is traditionally the most-watched entertainment telecast of the year, but not in 2018: That distinction went to the post-Super Bowl episode of NBC’s “This Is Us,” titled appropriately “Super Bowl Sunday.”

The episode, in which a faulty Crock-Pot murders innocent Jack Pearson, averaged 33.4 million viewers and an 11.6 rating among adults 18-49 — putting it ahead of the 90th Oscars, in which “The Shape of Water” won Best Picture in front of 27.4 million viewers and a 7.1 rating among adults 18-49 (a new low in modern times, down from 34.1 million viewers and a 9.5 rating in the demo last year).

“This Is Us” benefited, of course, from airing after Super Bowl LII, but also was in the midst of a stellar year. According to this year’s ranker of most-watched broadcast and cable telecasts, 12 episodes of “This Is Us” made it into the top 100. (That’s down a touch from last year, when 18 telecasts made the grade.) Among scripted series, “This Is Us” was bested only by the resilient CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” which landed 14 episodes on the list.

Like most years, the NFL dominated 2018’s ranker of the most-watched TV, taking up a whopping 34. That includes Super Bowl LII, which once again led the pack among adults 18-49 and total viewers.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ win over the New England Patriots averaged a little more than 104 million total viewers, down from last year’s 112 million. just a tick from last year’s 112.6 million.

Between the Super Bowl, playoffs, NBC’s Sunday Night Football, ESPN’s Monday Night Football and Fox/NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football, the NFL claimed 34 of the 100 top-rated telecasts (among adults 18-49) in 2017. Other sports weren’t close: The NBA scored six slots, college sports landed three, and Major League Baseball landed just one. The Winter Olympics took eight spots, led by the Games’ opening ceremonies.

And then there’s the case of “Roseanne,” the series revival that was a tremendous smash for ABC in the spring. The March 27 premiere of “Roseanne” averaged an 8.1 rating with adults 18-49 (better than the Oscars), and even though ratings eroded after that, it was still strong enough that all nine episodes made it on to the top 100 ranker.

But it all came crashing down in June, after star Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet. The show was canceled, and ABC was left with “The Conners,” a show doing solid numbers but not at the astronomical levels of “Roseanne.”

Besides “Roseanne,” NBC’s “Manifest” was the only new series to make it on the list, with the show’s premiere telecast.

Thanks to the NFL, “This Is Us” and the Winter Olympics, NBC dominated the top telecast ranker, with 42 slots. That was followed by CBS (17, mostly because of “Big Bang”), ABC (13), AMC and ESPN (tied at 9), Fox (8), and TNT and TBS, tied at 2.

Here’s our ratings roundup of the year’s most-watched telecasts, according to different broadcast and cable measurements.

TOP-RATED PRIMETIME TELECASTS OF 2018, ADULTS 18-49

The top 100 broadcast and cable primetime telecasts in 2018, overall by 18-49 (including Live+7 DVR and VOD data):

SHOW & NETWORK

ADULT 18-49 RATING

AIRDATE

1

Super Bowl LII: Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots NBC

33.6

2/4/2018

2

NFC Championship: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Minnesota Vikings Fox

13.5

1/21/2018

3

This Is Us (214: “Super Bowl Sunday”) NBC

 11.6

2/4/2018

4

College Football Championship: Alabama vs. Georgia ESPN

8.9

1/8/2018

5

Roseanne (1001/1002: “Twenty Years to Life”/”Dress to Impress”) ABC

8.1

3/27/2018

6

AFC Divisional Playoff: New England Patriots vs. Tennessee Titans CBS

8.0

1/13/2018

7

NFL Sunday Night Football: Green Bay vs. Chicago NBC

7.6

9/9/2018

8

NFL Sunday Night Football: New England vs. Green Bay NBC

7.5

11/4/2018

9

NFL Sunday Night Football: Dallas vs. New York Giants NBC

7.1

9/16/2018

tie

Academy Awards ABC

7.1

3/4/2018

11

NFL Sunday Night Football: New England vs. Kansas City NBC

7.0

10/14/2018

tie

NFL Playoff Game: Los Angeles Rams vs. Atlanta NBC

7.0

1/6/2018

 13

Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies NBC

6.9

2/9/2018

 14

NBA Finals Game 2: Golden State vs. Cleveland ABC

6.7

6/3/2018

tie

NFL Sunday Night Football: Philadelphia vs. Atlanta NBC

6.7

9/6/2018

16

NFL Sunday Night Football: New Orleans vs. Atlanta NBC

6.6

11/22/2018

tie

NBA Finals Game 1: Golden State vs. Cleveland ABC

6.6

5/31/2018

 tie

NFL Sunday Night Football: Dallas vs. Philadelphia NBC

6.6

11/11/2018

19

NBA Finals Game 3: Golden State vs.Cleveland ABC

6.5

6/6/2018

 tie

NFL Thursday Night Football: Dallas vs. New Orleans Fox/NFL Network

6.5

11/29/2018

tie

NFL Sunday Night Football: Detroit vs. New England NBC

6.5

9/23/2018

22

College Football Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Clemson ESPN

6.4

1/1/2018

23

Roseanne (1003: “Roseanne Gets the Chair”) ABC

6.3

4/3/2018

tie

Grammy Awards CBS

6.3

1/28/2018

 25

NFL Sunday Night Football: Houston vs. Dallas NBC

6.2

10/7/2018

tie

NFL Sunday Night Football: Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh NBC

6.2

9/30/2018

27

NFL Sunday Night Football: Minnesota vs. Green Bay NBC

6.1

11/25/2018

 28

NFL Sunday Night Football: Chicago vs. Los Angeles Rams NBC

6.0

12/9/2018

 29

NFL Sunday Night Football: Chicago vs. Minnesota NBC

5.9

11/18/2018

30

Roseanne (1004: “Eggs Over, Not Easy”) ABC

5.8

4/10/2018

tie

NBA Playoffs: Golden State vs. Houston TNT

5.8

5/28/2018

 32

NFL Monday Night Football: Los Angeles Rams vs. Kansas City ESPN

5.7

11/19/2018

33

Roseanne (1005: “Darlene vs. David”) ABC

5.6

4/17/2018

 tie

Winter Olympics Primetime NBC

5.6

2/11/2018

35

NBA Finals Game 4: Golden State vs. Cleveland ABC

 5.5

6/8/2018

tie

NFL Monday Night Football: Kansas City vs. Denver ESPN

5.5

10/1/2018

 tie

NFL Sunday Night Football: Los Angeles Chargers vs. Pittsburgh (704: “The Spoils of War”) NBC

5.5

12/2/2018

 tie

The Walking Dead (809: “Honor”) AMC

5.5

2/25/2018

39

Winter Olympics Primetime NBC

5.5

2/13/2018

40

Winter Olympics Primetime NBC

5.3

2/12/2018

 41

This Is Us (213: “That’ll Be The Day”) NBC

5.2

1/23/2018

tie

Golden Globe Awards NBC

5.2

1/7/2018

43

NFL Sunday Night Football: Kansas City vs. Cincinnati  NBC

5.1

10/21/2018

tie

NBA Playoffs: Cleveland vs. Boston ESPN

5.1

5/27/2018

45

This Is Us (211: “The Fifth Wheel”) NBC

5.0

1/9/2018

tie

Winter Olympics Prime NBC

5.0

2/10/2018

 tie

NFL Thursday Night Football: Seattle vs. Green Bay Fox/NFL Network

5.0

11/15/2018

tie

The Big Bang Theory (1124: “The Bow Tie Asymmetry”) CBS

5.0

5/10/2018

 tie

The Walking Dead (816: “Wrath”) AMC

5.0

4/15/2018

tie

The Big Bang Theory (1112: “The Matrimonial Metric”) CBS

5.0

1/4/2018

tie

This Is Us (212: “Clooney”) NBC

5.0

1/16/2018

52

This Is Us (218: “The Wedding”) NBC

4.9

3/13/2018

 tie

The Big Bang Theory (1113: “The Solo Oscillation”) CBS

4.9

1/11/2018

tie

This Is Us (301: “Nine Bucks”) NBC

4.9

9/25/2018

 tie

This Is Us (215: “The Car”) NBC

4.9

2/6/2018

56

NFL Thursday Night Football: Los Angeles Rams vs. Minnesota Fox/NFL Network

4.8

9/27/2018

 tie

NFL Thursday Night Football: Philadelphia vs. New York Giants Fox/NFL Network

4.8

10/11/2018

tie

NFL Thursday Night Football: Pittsburgh vs. Carolina Fox/NFL Network

4.8

11/8/2018

59

The Walking Dead (813: “Do Not Send Us Astray”) AMC

4.7

3/25/2018

tie

World Series Game 5: Boston vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Fox

4.7

10/28/2018

 61

The Big Bang Theory (1115: “The Novelization Correlation”) CBS

4.6

2/1/2018

 tie

The Walking Dead (810: “The Lost and the Plunderers”) AMC

4.6

3/4/2018

tie

This Is Us (217: “This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life”) NBC

4.6

3/6/2018

 tie

Roseanne (1006: “No Country for Old Women”) ABC

4.6

5/1/2018

 tie

Roseanne (1007: “Go Cubs”) ABC

4.6

5/8/2018

 tie

NFL Monday Night Football: Pittsburgh vs. Tampa Bay ESPN

4.6

9/24/2018

67

The Walking Dead (812: “The Key”) AMC

4.5

3/18/2018

 tie

The Walking Dead (815: “Worth”) AMC

4.5

4/8/2018

 tie

The Big Bang Theory (1114: “The Separation Triangulation”) CBS

4.5

1/18/2018

tie

This Is Us (216: “Vegas, Baby”) NBC

4.5

2/27/2018

 tie

NFL Thursday Night Football: New England vs. Indianapolis Fox/NFL Network

4.5

10/4/2018

 tie

NFL Sunday Night Football: New Orleans vs. Minnesota NBC

4.5

10/28/2018

 73

The Walking Dead (811: “Dead or Alive Or”) AMC

4.4

3/11/2018

tie

The Walking Dead (814: “Still Gotta Mean Something”) AMC

4.4

4/1/2018

 tie

NFL Weather Delay NBC

4.4

9/6/2018

 tie

Roseanne (1008: “Netflix & Pill”) ABC

4.4

5/15/2018

 77

This Is Us (302: “A Philadelphia Story”) NBC

4.3

10/2/2018

 tie

The Big Bang Theory (1117: “The Athenaeum Allocation”) CBS

4.3

3/8/2018

79

NFL Monday Night Football: Green Bay vs. San Francisco ESPN

4.2

10/15/2018

 tie

Roseanne (1009: “Knee Deep”) ABC

4.2

5/22/2018

 tie

The Big Bang Theory (1118: “The Gates Excitation”) CBS

4.2

3/29/2018

tie

Manifest (101: Pilot) NBC

4.2

9/24/2018

 tie

This Is Us (303: “Katie Girls”) NBC

4.2

10/9/2018

 tie

Winter Olympics Primetime NBC

4.2

2/14/2018

tie

The Big Bang Theory (1201: “The Conjugal Configuration”) CBS

 4.2

9/24/2018

 86

60 Minutes (5028: Stormy Daniels Interview) CBS

4.1

3/25/2018

 tie

The Big Bang Theory (1116: “The Neonatal Nomenclature”) CBS

4.1

3/1/2018

 tie

NCAA Basketball Championship: Michigan vs. Villanova TBS

4.1

4/2/2018

 tie

Winter Olympics Primetime NBC

4.1

2/15/2018

 tie

The Big Bang Theory (1123: “The Sibling Realignment”) CBS

4.1

5/3/2018

 tie

The Big Bang Theory (1120: “The Reclusive Potential”) CBS

4.1

4/12/2018

 tie

NFL Monday Night Football: Chicago vs. Seattle ESPN

4.1

9/17/2018

tie

Winter Olympics Primetime NBC

4.1

2/20/2018

 tie

The Walking Dead (901: “A New Beginning”) AMC

4.1

10/7/2018

tie

The Big Bang Theory (1121: “The Comet Polarization”) CBS

4.1

4/19/2018

 tie

NFL Monday Night Football: Tennessee vs. Dallas ESPN

4.1

11/5/2018

 97

Winter Olympics Primetime NBC

4.0

2/16/2018

tie

This Is Us (304: “Vietnam”) NBC

 4.0

10/16/2018

 tie

The Big Bang Theory (1119: “The Tenant Disassociation”) CBS

4.0

4/5/2018

 tie

The Big Bang Theory (1208: “The Consummation Deviation”) CBS

4.0

11/8/2018

Source: Nielsen, 1/1/18 – 12/9/18. All Telecasts, Broadcast and Cable (excluding telecasts with durations under 25 min, including SB and NFC). Broadcast Prime, telecast with start times within daypart (M-Sat 8P-11P; Sun 6:30P-11P)

MOST-WATCHED PRIMETIME TELECASTS OF 2018, TOTAL VIEWERS

The top 50 broadcast and cable telecasts in 2018, overall by total viewers (includes Live+7 DVR and VOD data):

SHOW & NETWORK

TOTAL VIEWERS

AIRDATE

1

Super Bowl LII: Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots NBC

104,107,000

2/4/2018

2

NFC Championship: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Minnesota Vikings Fox

42,449,000

1/21/2018

3

This Is Us (214: “Super Bowl Sunday”) NBC

33,433,000

2/4/2018

4

Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies NBC

29,262,000

2/9/2018

5

College Football Championship: Alabama vs. Georgia ESPN

27,894,000

1/8/2018

6

Academy Awards ABC

27,400,000

3/4/2018

7

Roseanne (1001/1002: “Twenty Years to Life”/”Dress to Impress”) ABC

27,271,000

3/27/2018

8

AFC Divisional Playoff: New England Patriots vs. Tennessee Titans CBS

26,861,000

1/13/2018

9

NFL Sunday Night Football: New England vs. Green Bay NBC

23,972,000

11/4/2018

10

Winter Olympics Primetime NBC

23,439,000

2/11/2018

11

NFL Playoff Game: Los Angeles Rams vs. Atlanta NBC

22,944,000

1/6/2018

12

60 Minutes (5028: Stormy Daniels Interview) CBS

22,887,000

3/25/2018

13

Winter Olympics Primetime NBC

22,367,000

2/10/2018

14

NFL Sunday Night Football: Green Bay vs. Chicago NBC

22,356,000

9/9/2018

15

Roseanne (1003: “Roseanne Gets the Chair”) ABC

22,095,000

4/3/2018

16

NFL Sunday Night Football: New Orleans vs. Atlanta NBC

21,856,000

11/22/2018

17

The Big Bang Theory (1124: “The Bow Tie Asymmetry”) CBS

21,829,000

5/10/2018

18

NFL Thursday Night Football: Dallas vs. New Orleans Fox/NFL Network

21,587,000

11/29/2018

19

Winter Olympics Prime NBC

21,402,000

2/13/2018

20

NFL Sunday Night Football: New England vs. Kansas City NBC

21,367,000

10/14/2018

21

The Big Bang Theory (1113: “The Solo Oscillation”) CBS

21,116,000

1/11/2018

22

The Big Bang Theory (1112: “The Matrimonial Metric”) CBS

21,104,000

1/4/2018

23

Winter Olympics Primetime NBC

20,977,000

2/12/2018

24

Grammy AwardCBS

20,905,000

1/28/2018

25

NFL Sunday Night Football: Dallas vs. New York Giants NBC

20,818,000

9/16/2018

26

College Football Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Clemson ESPN

20,691,000

1/1/2018

27

NFL Sunday Night Football: Minnesota vs. Green Bay NBC

20,635,000

11/25/2018

28

NFL Sunday Night Football: Dallas vs. Philadelphia NBC

20,324,000

11/11/2018

29

Roseanne (1004: “Eggs Over, Not Easy”) ABC

20,119,000

4/10/2018

30

Golden Globe Awards NBC

19,775,000

1/7/2018

31

NFL Sunday Night Football: Detroit vs. New England NBC

19,642,000

9/23/2018

32

The Big Bang Theory (1114: “The Separation Triangulation”) CBS

19,588,000

1/18/2018

33

The Big Bang Theory (1115: “The Novelization Correlation”) CBS

19,583,000

2/1/2018

34

NFL Sunday Night Football: Chicago vs. Los Angeles Rams NBC

19,573,000

12/9/2018

35

Roseanne (1005: “Darlene vs. David”) ABC

19,507,000

4/17/2018

36

NCIS (1522: “Two Steps Back”) CBS

19,410,000

5/8/2018

37

NFL Sunday Night Football: Philadelphia vs. Atlanta NBC

19,187,000

9/6/2018

38

NFL Sunday Night Football: Chicago vs. Minnesota NBC

18,999,000

11/18/2018

39

NBA Finals Game 2: Golden State vs. Cleveland ABC

18,914,000

6/3/2018

40

NFL Sunday Night Football: Houston vs. Dallas NBC

18,907,000

10/7/2018

41

The Big Bang Theory (1116: “The Neonatal Nomenclature”) CBS

18,597,000

3/1/2018

42

The Big Bang Theory (1117: “The Athenaeum Allocation”) CBS

18,501,000

3/8/2018

43

Young Sheldon (110: “An Eagle Feather, a String Bean, and an Eskimo”) CBS

18,434,000

1/4/2018

44

Manifest (101: Pilot) NBC

18,399,000

9/24/2018

45

The Big Bang Theory (1201: “The Conjugal Configuration”) CBS

18,221,000

9/24/2017

46

NCIS (1513: “Family Ties”) CBS

18,171,000

1/23/2018

47

The Big Bang Theory (1118: “The Gates Excitation”) CBS

18,169,000

3/29/2018

48

NCIS (1512: “Dark Secrets”) CBS

18,135,000

1/9/2018

49

NBA Finals Game 3: Golden State vs.Cleveland ABC

18,119,000

6/6/2018

50

NFL Sunday Night Football: Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh NBC

18,058,000

9/30/2018

Source: Nielsen, 1/1/18 – 12/9/18. All Telecasts, Broadcast and Cable (excluding telecasts with durations under 25 min, including SB and NFC). Broadcast Prime, telecast with start times within daypart (M-Sat 8P-11P; Sun 6:30P-11P)

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