In the world of television, Nielsen is the god all broadcast TV executives must bow down to/make blood sacrifices to, and now Nielsen has made its final judgment on 2018.
While the folks who work at streaming services like Netflix are busy knocking back eggnog and laughing at the trials and tribulations that broadcast execs must go through for ratings success, we here at TV Guide are more interested than ever to see which shows and events made Nielsen's most-watched series and events lists this year. Check out the list below, which details the average audience, in millions of viewers, for prime-time broadcast or cable series. The numbers include delayed viewing via DVRs or on-demand.
Top 10 Regularly Schedule Series
- Roseanne (ABC) 20.0
- Sunday Night Football (NBC) 19.6
- The Big Bang Theory (CBS) 18.3
- NCIS (CBS) 16.7
- This Is Us (NBC) 16.6
- Young Sheldon (CBS) 15.7
- Manifest (NBC) 14.6
- The Good Doctor (ABC) 14.5
- America's Got Talent (NBC) 14.3
- Bull (CBS) 13.5
That's right, folks! The most watched series in 2018 isn't even on the air anymore. The Roseanne revival pulled in huge numbers during its first season back on ABC, and it was well on its way to dominating the broadcast audience. Then sh-- went sideways; Roseanne Barr's offensive tweet about Valerie Jarrett got her fired from the series and Roseanne was subsequently canceled. A spin-off, The Conners, has not been able to pull in the same massive numbers the original series did.
Of course, it's no surprise that The Big Bang Theory and NCIS continued to dominate this list as major performers, but NBC's Manifest was a surprising success in its freshman year. In fact, NBC programming claimed four of the top 10 spots. Not too shabby!
Now, let's take a look at time-shifted viewing. Shows no longer necessarily live and die on live numbers, since DVR allows people to watch their shows whenever they've got the time. What this means is that shows that would normally get left out in the cold when it comes to top performer lists get a second chance if they manage to snag enough people with delayed viewing numbers. Here are the shows that saw their ratings spike in the week after a new episode aired.
Top Time-Shifted Series of 2018
- Better Call Saul (AMC) 429 percent
- The Sinner (USA) 352 percent
- Shameless (Showtime) 321 percent
- American Horror Story (FX) 313 percent
- Mayans M.C. (FX) 305 percent
- Yellowstone (Paramount) 280 percent
- American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace (FX) 271 percent
- Jersey Shore Family Vacation (MTV) 244 percent
- The Alienist (TNT) 236 percent
- Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (Bravo) 222 percent
Naturally, basic cable series dominated the top time-shifted series list. AMC's Better Call Saul increased its number by more than 400 percent in time-shifted viewing. Meanwhile, it looks like FX is getting a lot of lift from delayed viewing.
This all pretty interesting, but when we look at the top 10 telecasts of the year, there's nothing surprising. The only thing to take away from the telecast numbers is that Americans like sports, especially the Super Bowl.
Top 10 Telecasts
- Super Bowl LII (NBC) 104.1
- Super Bowl post-game (NBC) 74.0
- NFC Championship (Fox) 42.4
- NFC Playoff (Fox) 35.8
- This Is Us post-Super Bowl episode (NBC) 33.4
- Winter Olympics opening ceremony (NBC) 29.3
- College Football championship (ESPN) 27.9
- Oscars (ABC) 27.4
- Roseanne premiere (ABC) 27.3
- AFC Divisional Playoff (CBS) 26.9