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Every Primetime Network Show Ranked

Every Primetime Network Show Ranked

The 2023-24 TV season was blown apart before it ever began. Two labor strikes and media companies’ refusal to budge on the demands of writers and actors wiped out a couple dozen fall premieres for scripted series on the broadcast networks. When management did agree to new terms with writers and actors (largely accepting the two unions’ demands), it meant shortened seasons for nearly every returning comedy and drama.

One thing remained consistent with previous years, however: The vast majority of shows on the five English-language broadcasters brought in smaller on-air audiences than they did the season before.

Of the 143 primetime series with complete data for the September-to-May TV season, only 11 drew bigger total audiences than they did in the 2022-23 season, based on Nielsen’s seven-day ratings for 2023-24. Just five shows scored better ratings in the key ad-sales demographic of adults 18-49 vs. last season.

(Complete seven-day ratings for several series on The CW — 100 Days to Indy, Crime Nation, Hostage Rescue, Lovers and Liars, Patti Stanger: The Matchmaker, Police 24/7, Sight Unseen, Totally Funny Animals and Totally Funny Kids — weren’t available. They are not included in the charts below, though based on their same-day numbers, they would likely fall near the bottom of the rankings.)

As is usually the case — as in, eight of the past nine seasons — NBC‘s Sunday Night Football led all shows in both total viewers (19.73 million, its biggest audience since 2019-20) and adults 18-49 (5.31 rating, equivalent to 6.98 million people in that demo). The weekly NFL showcase improved by about 8 percent in both measures vs. the previous season. Monday Night Football on ABC finished second in both — the network aired a full slate of games compared to just a handful in fall 2022, and averaged just under 12 million viewers and a 2.57 rating in the 18-49 demographic. (The MNF figures are for its broadcast only and don’t include viewers who watched simulcasts on ESPN.)

CBSTracker was the most watched series after the two NFL games. The first-year drama starring Justin Hartley averaged 10.84 million viewers, keeping up its momentum after a post-Super Bowl premiere (which isn’t included in the show’s season average as the episode aired outside of primetime). It tied for ninth place among adults 18-49 with a 0.8 rating.

Survivor was the top non-football show among adults 18-49 — and the only one to top a 1.0 rating — with a 1.06, equivalent to about 1.4 million viewers in that age range. The long-running CBS competition edged up in the demo from 2022-23.

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Nielsen’s ratings do not include streaming, which accounts for a significant portion of the seven-day audience for most shows. As much as 40 percent to 50 percent of a network scripted show’s viewers in the week after an episode debuts now watch on streaming platforms, whose data is largely kept from public view.

The full season rankings are below, based on live plus seven-day Nielsen ratings for Sept. 25, 2023-May 26, 2024, along with comparisons to last season where applicable. Click the arrow at the top right of each table for additional entries.

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