‘NCIS’ & ‘FBI’ Among Top Shows in Nielsen’s 2020 Top Programs Report

fbi this is us the good doctor
Michael Parmelee/ CBS; NBC; ABC/Jeff Weddell
FBI; This Is Us; The Good Doctor

In a year that has turned almost everything we’ve known or done upside down, COVID’s impact on TV has been just as evident. Viewing habits shifted as more people began to work from home and, with productions delayed or shut down, premiere dates got pushed back, wreaking havoc on network and streamer schedules.

But one thing remains the same: Nielsen is out with it Top Programs of 2020 report. And, drumroll, the three Top TV Programs Regularly Scheduled are NBC Sunday Night Football, NCIS and FBI.

Nielsen’s top programs are actually tallied in four different ways: single telecast, regularly scheduled (the top-rated programs in their regularly scheduled slots), time-shifted programs ranked by percent change in viewers (this takes live plus seven-day viewing into consideration, which includes people who tuned into shows when they aired and those who watched in the first seven days following the episode’s debut) and time-shifted programs ranked by absolute difference (which shows how the time shift ranks the programs overall).


Coming out atop the Single Telecast category is Super Bowl LIV, which aired in February. While sports is big here, The Masked Singer‘s post-Super Bowl episode came in at seventh with the Oscars rounding out the list at number 1o.

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(Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS)

Regularly scheduled rankings also include Blue Bloods, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Young Sheldon, Chicago Med, and This Is Us.

Ranking time-shifted programming by positive percentage change in viewership gave some favorites like The Walking Dead and Yellowstone a boost.

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Yellowstone topped the list in increased viewership followed by Emergence, Stumptown, Manifest, The Resident, New Amsterdam, The Walking Dead, Will & Grace, A Million Little Things, and Good Girls.

Time-shifted programming ranked by absolute difference rather than percentage in improved viewership includes more of the regularly scheduled contenders.

In this case, This Is Us tops the time-shifted programs with NCIS trailing in second place followed by The Good Doctor, 9-1-1, New Amsterdam, Blue Bloods, Chicago P.D., Bull, Chicago Fire, and FBI.

Did your favorite shows make the lists?