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Once DVR Viewership is Accounted For, The 20 Highest Rated TV Shows May Surprise You

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | October 9, 2014 | Comments ()

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | October 9, 2014 |


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Looking at the ratings that matter most, the 18-49 demo, here was the 20 highest rated shows during premiere week once three days of DVR ratings were taken into account.

1. Sunday Night Football
2. Big Bang Theory
3. Big Bang Theory
4. Family Guy
5. How to Get Away with Murder
6. Modern Family
7. Scandal
8. Voice
9. Gotham
10. Blacklist
11. Scorpion
12. Grey’s Anatomy
13. Once Upon a Time
14. Thursday Night Football
15. The Simpsons
16. NCIS
17. Chicago Fire
18. Survivor
19. Brooklyn Nine Nine
20. The Goldbergs

What’s surprising to me? Family Guy and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, although of course The Simpsons crossover bounced The Family Guy’s ratings (and Brooklyn Nine-Nine also benefited from it). Also, the fact that How to Get Away with Murder is stone cold dominating, even beating out Thursday NFL in the demo (as did Grey’s and Scandal). I’m not surprised that the premiere of Gotham was huge, but I would like to see where it is now with DVR viewership taken into account.

The overall viewership numbers I found even more interesting.

1. Big Bang Theory — 22.5 million
2. NBC Sunday Night Football — 22 million
3. NCIS — 21.5 million
4. How to Get Away with Murder — 20.2 million
5. NCIS: New Orleans — 20 million
6. Scorpion — 17.9 million
7. Blacklist — 17.3 million
8. Scandal — 15.6 million
9. The Voice — 15.4 million
10. Modern Family — 15.2 million
11. Madam Secretary — 14.8 million
12. Black-ish — 14.2 million
13. Dancing with the Stars — 14.2 million
14. Person of Interest — 14 million
15. Blue Bloods — 13.8 million
16. Grey’s Anatomy — 13.1 million
17. NFL Thursday Night Football — 13 million
18. Good Wife — 12.9 million
19. Law & Order: SVU — 12.4 million
20. Once Upon a Time — 12.1 million

Obviously, there are a lot of shows (like, most of the CBS programs) that place in the overall viewers top 20 but not the more coveted 18-49 demo. But look at the overall numbers once DVR viewership is taken into account. There are five shows with more than 20 million viewers.

And here we thought network television was suffering?

Check out the average ratings of the top 20 shows for the 1999-2000 season.


1. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (Tue.) 18.7 million
2. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (Thu.) 17.5 million
3. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (Sun.) 17.1 million
4. ER — 16.9 million
5. Friends -14 million
6. NFL Monday Night Football 13.7 million
7. Frasier 13.6 million
8. Frasier (9:30 p.m.) 12.4 million
9. 60 Minutes — 12 million
10. The Practice — 11.8 million
11. Touched by an Angel — 11.6 million
12. Law & Order - 11.5 million
13. Everybody Loves Raymond — 11.4 million
14. NFL Monday Showcase — 11.4 million
15. Jesse 11.3 million
16. CBS Sunday Movie - 10.8 million
17. Daddio — 10.8 million
18. NYPD Blue — 10.7 million
19 Stark Raving Mad — 10.7 million
20. Dharma & Greg — 10.5 million

Granted, those were “households” and not “viewers,” and I’m not sure what the conversion rate is, but I do know that the number of “viewers” who watched Friends that season was on the order of 22 million per episode, and 22 million is on par with Big Bang Theory, while How to Get Away with Murder has numbers similar to those of E.R. in 1999.

What I’m saying is: As much as we want to complain and/or celebrate the declining viewership on network television, once DVR viewers are accounted for, things haven’t changed THAT much in the last 15 years.

And then there’s The Walking Dead on cable, where — once DVR viewership, replays, and downloads are taken into account — it’s seen by around 28 million viewers, which rivals the viewers of Seinfeld (and that doesn’t even take into account piracy). Likewise, Game of Thrones is in the 20 million range when all methods of delivery are taken into account, minus piracy.

One more additional note, for those wondering: DVR viewership did help New Girl and The Mindy Project, but not that much. Both are seen by less than 3.5 and 2.8 million viewers, respectively, even with DVR viewership. Sleepy Hollow, meanwhile, jumped an entire ratings point, from 2.0 to 3.0 (falling just out of the top 20 in the 18-49 demo) and was seen by around 8.9 million people.



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