The Top 50 Most-Watched TV Shows of the 2016-2017 Season

Erin S. Medley

With the 2017 Emmy nominations just four weeks away, it's that time of year when networks start touting their shows as the best on television. But nominations for awards only tell you what the industry thinks about last season’s TV shows. The people have spoken, too—through the ratings. The below chart lists the top 50 most watched television programs from September 19, 2016 to May 14, 2017 on network and cable TV in total viewers. (There won’t be much overlap when the Emmy love is given out next month, we can guarantee.)

Pfft, sports
NBC managed to be the highest-rated network among Americans who are 18 to 49 (the most coveted demo among advertisers) without the Super Bowl (which aired on Fox) or the Olympics (which aired in the summer).

On the other hand…
CBS finished the season at no. 1 in total viewers for the ninth consecutive season. The network had five scripted programs in the top 10 (The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, Bull, Blue Bloods and NCIS: New Orleans). Yet, only one of these shows made the top 10 among 18 to 49 year olds, The Big Bang Theory.

So The Bang is still big
The series was also the no. 1 rated scripted program in total viewers, adults 25-54, and adults 18-34. Adults just don’t seem to like watching TV with their grandparents unless Jim Parsons is involved…

Or family crises.
Like Bang, NBC’s This is Us made the top 10 among total viewers and adults 18-49, finishing at No. 7 on the first list and No. 6 on the second.

Want more trivia?
The highest-rated canceled show: Chicago Justice
The number of top 20 TV programs led by women: 2
The number of top 20 TV programs led by a man: 9
The number of top 20 shows Michael Weatherly appeared on at one time or another: 4

TOP 50 SHOWS

Source: Nielsen Media Research, Sept. 19, 2016-May 14, 2017, in millions

1 NFL Sunday Night Football NBC 20.1
2 The Big Bang Theory CBS 19.0
3 NCIS CBS 18.4
4 NFL Thursday Night Football NBC 17.1
5 The Walking Dead AMC 16.4
6 Bull CBS 15.5
7 This Is Us NBC 15.3
8 NFL Thursday Night Football CBS 14.8
9 Blue Bloods CBS 14.1
10 NCIS: New Orleans CBS 13.4
11 Dancing With the Stars ABC 12.6
The Voice (Monday) NBC 12.6
 60 Minutes CBS 12.6
14 NCIS: Los Angeles CBS 12.5
The Voice (Tuesday) NBC 12.5
16 Hawaii Five-0 CBS 12.2
17 Designated Survivor ABC 12.1

Fall TV Shows, Schedules and Premiere Dates 2017

Fall TV Shows, Schedules and Premiere Dates 2017

What will you be watching on network TV this fall? Set your schedule as the major networks release their fall premiere dates.

18 NFL Monday Night Football ESPN 11.5
19 Grey’s Anatomy ABC 11.2
Empire FOX 11.2
21 Madam Secretary CBS 11.1
22 Criminal Minds CBS 10.9
23 Modern Family ABC 10.8
24 Chicago Fire NBC 10.7
     Scorpion CBS 10.7
26 Survivor CBS 10.5
27 Little Big Shots NBC 10.3
28 Chicago P.D. NBC 10.1
29 Chicago Med NBC 9.9
30 MacGyver CBS 9.8
31 The Blacklist NBC 9.7
32 Mom CBS 9.4
33 Kevin Can Wait CBS 9.2
Code Black CBS 9.2
Lethal Weapon FOX 9.2
36 The Bachelor ABC 9.0

2017 TV Renewals, Cancellations: Which TV Shows Are Returning Next Season?

2017 TV Renewals, Cancellations: Which TV Shows Are Returning Next Season?

Here’s when your favorite network TV series are having their season finales, along with their renewal status — or their predicted fate.

37 Law & Order: SVU NBC 8.8
38 Scandal ABC 8.6
39 Chicago Justice NBC 8.5
40 The Great Indoors CBS 8.4
41 Last Man Standing ABC 8.3
42 Life In Pieces CBS 8.2
43 Timeless NBC 8.0
44 Pure Genius CBS 7.9
How to Get Away With Murder ABC 7.9
46 The Middle ABC 7.8
The Goldbergs ABC 7.8
48 Elementary CBS 7.6
49 Man With a Plan CBS 7.5
50 Blindspot NBC 7.4
black-ish ABC 7.4

What was your favorite show of the 2016-2017 season? Tell us in the comments below.