Which TV Shows Have Made CBS the Most-Watched Network 14 Years Running?

Wilmer Valderrama as Special Agent Nicholas “Nick” Torres in NCIS
Robert Voets/CBS
Wilmer Valderrama as Special Agent Nicholas “Nick” Torres in ‘NCIS’

The 2021–2022 television season hasn’t even finished, but CBS is already calling it. In a May 3 press release citing ratings projections, CBS declared itself “America’s Most-Watched Network” for the 14th season in a row and for the 19th time in 20 years. (CBS also says it’s the top network in late night for the sixth straight year and tops in daytime for the 36th straight year.)

In the release, CBS brags that it has the top drama and broadcast series in general with NCIS, the top comedy with Young Sheldon, the top primetime news program with 60 Minutes, and the top new drama and new comedy with NCIS: Hawai‘i and Ghosts, respectively.

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The chart of top-rated shows for this 2021-2022 season isn’t out yet, but past seasons’ rankings show how crime dramas and one “big bang” of a comedy have kept the network at No. 1.

According to our informal research of the broadcast networks’ top 10 shows each year since the 2008-2009 season — when CBS reclaimed its crown after Fox briefly became No. 1 — these are the TV shows that helped CBS dominate the primetime landscape recently.

Person of Interest Jim Caviezel Annie Ilonzeh Kevin Chapman
Giovanni Rufino/CBS/Courtesy: Everett Collection

10. ‘Person of Interest’ (tie)

This J.J. Abrams-produced action drama, which had two seasons in the top 10, proved so popular among test viewers that CBS gave it CSI’s old timeslot.

Bull Michael Weatherly
David M. Russell/CBS/Courtesy: Everett Collection

10. ‘Bull’ (tie)

Ratings for this soon-to-end legal drama have stayed strong, but the numbers started slipping even before Michael Weatherly’s drama.

NCIS: New Orleans Scott Bakula
Sam Lothridge/CBS

8. ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ (tie)

The third NCIS show — and, with its series finale last year, the first to leave the airwaves — had three seasons in the top 10.

Young Sheldon Iain Armitage
Robert Voets/©2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

8. ‘Young Sheldon’ (tie)

Big Bang Theory fans gave this single-camera prequel series a strong start. Its debut season ranked No. 6 among broadcast shows in the 2017–2018 season.

The Mentalist Robin Tunney Simon Baker
Robert Voets/CBS/Courtesy: Everett Collection

7. ‘The Mentalist’

This police thriller gained momentum in its first season, with a 26 percent growth in audience between Episode 1 and Episode 14.

FBI Missy Peregrym
David Russell/CBS

6. ‘FBI’

Dick Wolf charted yet another successful franchise with this show about the Feds: It reached No. 5 in the broadcast rankings last season.

Thursday Night Football CBS
CBS

5. ‘Thursday Night Football’

CBS had the broadcast rights to Thursday-night NFL games from 2014 to 2017 — sharing games with NBC for the last of those seasons.

Blue Bloods Tom Selleck
John Paul Filo/CBS

4. ‘Blue Bloods’

A rare standalone CBS procedural, Blue Bloods has lingered in the Top 10 for the past six TV seasons.

NCIS: Los Angeles Chris O'Donnell LL Cool J
CBS

3. ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’

This NCIS spinoff stayed in the top 10 for its first five seasons but, for some reason, suffered a 38% drop in total viewers in Season 6.

The Big Bang Theory Kaley Cuoco Jim Parsons
Monty Brinton/CBS/Courtesy: Everett Collection

2. ‘The Big Bang Theory’

This nerd-friendly sitcom hit the top 10 in its fifth season and stayed there until the end of its 12th and final season.

NCIS Mark Harmon
Sonja Flemming/CBS

1. ‘NCIS’

The flagship show in the NCIS franchise has stayed in the top 10 for all 14 years — and in the top 3 for the past decade.