It has been a big year for TV, and as 2018 winds down, the most-watched shows are now set in their rankings.
There were some big surprises in TV this year. With competition from streaming services and online platforms mounting, network TV has to struggle to keep up, and it has not always won. Old school metrics, advertising strategies and templates have slowed regular TV shows in the race for dominance, but they are not out yet.
For years, the Neilsen ratings that TV executives rely on have been steadily dwindling. Audiences prefer to watch TV on their own time, and do not tune in live the way they used to. In addition, many are now turning more and more to the streaming platforms, where they can binge watch shows all at once a year after they come out.
This has not stopped TV networks from making some incredible work. While Nielsen ratings may give network executives far less information than streaming services have, they know a hit when they see one, and in 2018, they saw plenty.
Here is a look at the top 10 most-watched shows of 2018.
Michael Weatherly left NCIS to star in a new legal drama called Bull in 2016. By the looks of it, that move is paying off as the show climbs into network TV's list of heavy-hitters. According to a report by TV Guide, Bull had an average audience of 13.5 million viewers per episode this season.prevnext
9. America's Got Talent
Next up on the list is NBC's beloved national talent show America's Got Talent. The spectacles were a thing to behold this year, though some viewers began to get jaded as acts who performed well on other countries' shows came here just to compete. AGT scored an average of 14.3 million viewers.prevnext
8. The Good Doctor
Not far ahead was ABC's new medical drama The Good Doctor, with 14.5 million average viewers. The Good Doctor had a stellar first season which wrapped up in the spring, and hit the ground running in the fall as well. It stars Freddie Highmore, the young actor best known for playing Norman Bates in Bates Motel.prevnext
Manifest put on an impressive display, making it onto this list despite only just premiering this fall. The show runs on NBC, and is often compared to the classic drama Lost for its winding conspiracies and supernatural mysteries. The show had an average audience of 14.6 million viewers this year.prevnext
6. Young Sheldon
The Big Bang Theory may be wrapping up soon, but Young Sheldon is just getting started. The series follows a much younger Sheldon Cooper, whom audiences seem to be in love with. Young Sheldon held 15.7 million peoples' attention on average this year.prevnext
5. This Is Us
Of course, NBC's drama sensation This Is Us had a huge audience. The series was the thing on everyone's mind this year as family drama and intrigue played out from two ends of the same time line. This Is Us had an average audience 16.6 million strong.prevnext
Meanwhile, CBS' navy procedural NCIS had a banner year as well. The show saw some major shake-ups this year, with veteran cast member Pauley Perette (Abby Sciuto) stepping away, and other characters stepping into more prominent roles. The show had an average of 16.7 million viewers in 2018.prevnext
3. The Big Bang Theory
The next spot takes a huge leap, as The Big Bang Theory pulled in an audience of 18.3 million on average this year. The show finished its last season with Sheldon and Amy's wedding in the spring, and is now tying up the loose ends of its final season right now.prevnext
2. Sunday Night Football
NBC's Sunday Night Football broadcasts jumped to the second spot on the list with an average of 19.6 million viewers. The sport seemed to be in trouble in the last couple of years, as concussion controversies and on-the-field protests threatened its viewership. Still, the game seems to have rallied.prevnext
Finally, and perhaps ironically, the most-watched show of 2018 was Roseanne. The reboot had a whopping 20 million viewers on average when it returned in the spring for just nine episodes. ABC eagerly renewed the show when it displayed Nielsen ratings that network executives had not seen in years, yet the good times could not last long.0comments
Roseanne was canceled after its star, Roseanne Barr, posted a racist tweet about former Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett. Barr has been known for circulating conspiracy theories online for years, but this one brought the whole series down. In an effort to salvage the success, the network greenlit a spin-off featuring all of the other characters, where Roseanne herself had died of a drug overdoes.
The Conners fell short of this list with an average viewership of 10.54 million so far this season. Still, the show has a dedicated following and could go far as fans continue to adapt to the new line-up.prev