These Are the 50 Most-Watched TV Shows of the 2014-15 Season

Michael Schneider
Big Bang Theory
Monty Brinton/CBS

Update, Jan. 4, 2016 | For a full look at the top shows of 2015, see our latest coverage:

2015's Most-Watched Television Shows

Football, Cookie and zombies battle for the top spot in a big year for television.

Highs and Lows: Ranking 2015 Winners and Losers

Here's the ranker of every ad-supported broadcast and cable network in 2015 (with the exception of certain digital networks, as well as cable networks that aren't measured by Nielsen), according to total viewers.

And the Most Popular On Demand Shows of the Year Are ...

We explain how the on-demand game changed in 2015

Below, our original story on the 2014-15 TV season winners and losers.


 

The Big Bang Theory is still blowing up ratings records. At the end of its eighth season, the CBS sitcom led all primetime shows, broadcast or cable, with 21.3 million weekly viewers (including seven days of DVR use and video-on-demand), a hair above two more perennial ratings faves: NBC's Sunday Night Football and CBS's NCIS, both with 21 million viewers. The
most-watched cable series of all time, AMC's The Walking Dead, pulled in 19.9 million viewers.

Before production on the new season gets underway, here's a final look at some of the hits and misses of 2014–2015, followed by our complete list of the 50 most-watched shows of the season.

How to Get Away With Murder Viola Davis
Mitch Haaseth/ABC

WINNERS

Fox's Empire and CBS's NCIS: New Orleans In the advertiser-coveted demographic of viewers age 18–49, Empire was not only the No. 1 new show (9 million viewers), but also the No. 2 scripted show, after The Walking Dead. In total viewers, NCIS: New Orleans was the top freshman show.

Football Sunday Night Football, CBS and NFL Network's simulcast of Thursday Night Football, and ESPN's Monday Night Football all scored touchdowns with fans, landing in the Top 20. The season's top cable airing was ESPN's College Football Championship (Ohio State vs. Oregon), which drew 33.7 million viewers.

Super Producers All four of Chuck Lorre's comedies are among the Top 50 shows: The Big Bang Theory, Mom, Mike & Molly, and the now-completed Two and a Half Men. Shonda Rhimes (How to Get Away With Murder, Scandal, and Grey's Anatomy), Dick Wolf (Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Law & Order: SVU), and Mark Burnett (Survivor and two editions of The Voice) each have three.

ABC's Wednesday comedy lineup The Middle, The Goldbergs, Modern Family, and Black-ish made the Top 50, solidifying the network's family-sitcom strategy and paving the way for more family comedies to debut next season. Black-ish was also the top-rated new comedy among viewers 18–49 (4.1 million).

The Following TV Show on Fox
Giovanni Rufino/FOX

LOSERS

Fox's The Following, ABC's Resurrection, and CBS's The Millers It's rough to be canceled after a single season. It's even tougher to land on the trash heap after Season 2 or 3. These three series had solid freshman years but didn't live up to their early potential and were handed pink slips.

CBS's Stalker While the critically panned show attracted a respectably-sized audience (10.1 million), it was still canceled—landing the dubious distinction of being the only new series in the Top 50 to get the ax. The dark subject matter was not advertiser-friendly and CBS didn't own the show, making it easier for the network to cancel it. That capped a rough year for executive producer Kevin Williamson, who also ran The Following.

The CW's Masters of Illusion The magic show was the least-watched primetime series of the year among the broadcast networks, pulling in just 906,000 total viewers.

TOP 50 SHOWS, TOTAL VIEWERS

America's most-watched series of the 2014-2015 season are ...

1

The Big Bang Theory CBS

21.3

2

NFL Sunday Night Football NBC

NCIS CBS

21.0

4

The Walking Dead AMC

19.9

5

NCIS: New Orleans CBS

18.3

6

Empire Fox

17.3

7

NFL Thursday Night Football CBS/NFL Network

16.8

8

Scorpion CBS

15.2

9

Blue Bloods CBS

15.1

10

The Blacklist NBC

How to Get Away With Murder ABC

14.9

12

Dancing With the Stars ABC

14.8

13

Madam Secretary CBS

Criminal Minds CBS

14.3

15

The Voice (Tuesday) NBC

The Voice (Monday) NBC

13.9

17

Modern Family ABC

13.7

18

NFL Monday Night Football ESPN

13.4

19

Person of Interest CBS

13.1

20

Downton Abbey PBS

12.9

21

Scandal ABC

12.8

22

NCIS:Los Angeles CBS

12.7

23

60 Minutes CBS

Hawaii Five-O CBS

12.6

25

Castle ABC

12.4

26

The Good Wife CBS

12.3

27

Two and a Half Man CBS

12.0

28

The Mentalist CBS

Mom CBS

11.8

30

American Idol (Thursday) Fox

11.6

31

Grey's Anatomy ABC

11.5

32

Survivor CBS

The Odd Couple CBS

11.4

34

Elementary CBS

11.3

35

CSI CBS

11.2

36

CSI:Cyber CBS

11.1

37

Chicago Fire NBC

10.8

38

American Idol(Wednesday) Fox

10.4

39

Stalker CBS

Chicago P.D. NBC

10.1

41

Law & Order: SVU NBC

Mike & Molly CBS

10.0

43

The Bachelor ABC

9.7

44

Gotham Fox

9.6

45

Game of Thrones HBO

9.4

46

2 Broke Girls CBS

The Middle ABC

9.3

48

Black-ish ABC

Once Upon A Time ABC

The Goldbergs ABC

9.2

Source: Nielsen Media Research, Sept. 22, 2014-May 20, 2015, in millions. Excludes repeats, sports pregame and postgame shows, and programs with two or fewer telecasts

TOP 50 SHOWS, ADULTS 18-49

America's most-watched series of the 2014-2015 season in the key advertising demographic (in millions watching) are ...

1

The Walking Dead AMC

13.2

2

NFL Sunday Night Football NBC

9.6

3

Empire Fox

9.0

4

The Big Bang Theory CBS

8.3

5

NFL Thursday Night Football CBS/ NFL Network

7.5

6

Modern Family ABC

6.5

7

How to Get Away with Murder ABC

6.3

8

NFL Monday Night Football ESPN

6.1

9

Game of Thrones HBO

5.9

10

Scandal ABC

5.6

11

Sons of Anarchy FX

5.2

12

The Blacklist NBC

The Voice (Monday) NBC

5.1

14

American Horror Story FX

5.0

15

The Voice (Tuesday) NBC

4.9

16

Grey's Anatomy ABC

4.8

17

Gotham Fox

4.7

18

Criminal Minds CBS

4.6

19

Scorpion CBS

4.5

20

NCIS CBS

4.4

21

Talking Dead AMC

Once Upon a Time ABC

4.2

23

Black-ish ABC

Better Call Saul AMC

4.1

25

Two and a Half Men CBS

The Goldbergs ABC

Family Guy Fox

Survivor CBS

3.9

29

The Bachelor ABC

3.8

30

Chicago Fire NBC

Mom CBS

American Idol (Thursday) Fox

3.7

33

NCIS: New Orleans CBS

3.6

34

Last Man on Earth Fox

The Odd Couple CBS

3.5

36

Law & Order: SVU NBC

2 Broke Girls CBS

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ABC

3.4

39

Chicago P.D. NBC

The Middle ABC

American Idol (Wednesday) Fox

The Simpsons Fox

Sleepy Hollow Fox

3.3

44

Castle ABC

Mike & Molly CBS

Shark Tank ABC

3.2

47

NCIS: Los Angeles CBS

Dancing with the Stars ABC

Marvel's Agent Carter ABC

Brooklyn Nine-Nine Fox

3.1

Source: Nielsen Media Research, Sept. 22, 2014-May 20, 2015, in millions. Excludes repeats, sports pregame and postgame shows, PBS and programs with two or fewer telecasts