October 31, 2013

Top Rated TV Programs By Season (2007-2013)

And a New Top 100 Series of All Time

Two of the most popular features in The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present are the annual rankings of most popular series (according to Nielsen) going back to 1950, and our own ranking of the most popular series of all time, based on audience size and longevity. Following is an update of the lists published in the ninth edition of The Complete Directory (2007). For prior years’ rankings see that edition.

            Thanks to my esteemed co-author Earle Marsh for updating these lists.

Note: scroll down for the all-time top 100 list, plus a special online bonus.

 Top Rated Programs By Season


September 2007-May 2008

Program Network Rating Program Network Rating
1. American Idol-Tuesday FOX 16.1 17. 60 Minutes CBS 8.4
2. American Idol-Wednesday FOX 15.9 18. Criminal Minds CBS 8.2
3. Dancing with the Stars-Monday ABC 14.0 19. Samantha Who? ABC 8.0
4. Dancing with the Stars-Wednesday ABC 12.6 20. Lost ABC 7.9
5. Dancing with the Stars-Tuesday ABC 12.3 21. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition ABC 7.7
6. Desperate Housewives ABC 11.6 22. Brothers & Sisters ABC 7.6
7. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS 10.6 22. CSI: NY CBS 7.6
8. House FOX 10.5 22. Heroes NBC 7.6
9. Grey’s Anatomy ABC 10.4 22. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit NBC 7.6
10. Sunday Night Football NBC 9.7 26. Private Practice ABC 7.3
11. CSI: Miami CBS 9.2 27. Law & Order NBC 7.2
11. NCIS CBS 9.2 28. Cold Case CBS 7.1
13. Without a Trace CBS 8.8 28. Deal or No Deal-Monday NBC 7.1
13. Moment of Truth FOX 8.8 30. Shark CBS 7.0
15. Two and a Half Men CBS 8.5 30. The Unit CBS 7.0
15. Survivor CBS 8.5 30. Hell’s Kitchen FOX 7.0


September 2008-May 2009

Program Network Rating Program Network Rating
1. American Idol-Wednesday FOX 15.1 17. House FOX 8.1
2. American Idol-Tuesday FOX 14.6 18. Survivor CBS 7.8
3. Dancing with the Stars-Monday ABC 12.9 18. Eleventh Hour CBS 7.8
4. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS 11.5 20. Cold Case CBS 7.5
5. NCIS CBS 10.9 20. The Bachelor ABC 7.5
6. The Mentalist CBS 10.8 22. 24 FOX 7.3
7. Dancing with the Stars-Tuesday ABC 10.7 23. Brothers & Sisters ABC 7.2
8. Sunday Night Football NBC 10.0 24. Rules of Engagement CBS 7.1
9. Desperate Housewives ABC 9.9 25. Castle ABC 6.9
10. Grey’s Anatomy ABC 9.6 26. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit NBC 6.7
11. Criminal Minds CBS 9.4 26. ER NBC 6.7
12. Two and a Half Men CBS 9.1 26. Bones FOX 6.7
12. CSI: Miami CBS 9.1 29. Ghost Whisperer CBS 6.6
14. 60 Minutes CBS 8.9 29. Lost ABC 6.6
15. CSI: NY CBS 8.6 29. Numb3rs CBS 6.6
16. Without a Trace CBS 8.4


September 2009-May 2010

Program Network Rating Program Network Rating
1. American Idol-Tuesday FOX 13.7 17. 60 Minutes CBS 8.4
2. American Idol-Wednesday FOX 13.3 18. CSI: Miami CBS 8.1
3. Dancing with the Stars ABC 12.6 19. CSI: NY CBS 7.9
4. NCIS CBS 11.5 19. Survivor CBS 7.9
5. Sunday Night Football NBC 11.3 21. The Bachelor ABC 7.8
6. The Mentalist CBS 10.6 22. House FOX 7.5
7. Dancing with the Stars-Results ABC 9.9 23. Brothers & Sisters ABC 7.0
8. NCIS: LA CBS 9.8 24. Castle ABC 6.9
8. Undercover Boss CBS 9.8 24. Lost ABC 6.9
10. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS 9.7 26. The Amazing Race CBS 6.6
11. Grey’s Anatomy ABC 9.0 27. Bones FOX 6.5
12. Two and a Half Men CBS 8.9 28. 24 FOX 6.4
13. Desperate Housewives ABC 8.8 29. Cold Case CBS 6.3
14. Big Bang Theory CBS 8.5 29. Private Practice ABC 6.3
14. Criminal Minds CBS 8.5
14. The Good Wife CBS 8.5


September 2010-May 2011

Program Network Rating Program Network Rating
1. American Idol-Wednesday FOX 14.5 16. Two and a Half Men CBS 7.7
2. Dancing with the Stars ABC 13.8 17. The Voice NBC 7.5
3. American Idol-Thursday FOX 13.4 17. Hawaii Five-0 CBS 7.5
4. Sunday Night Football NBC 12.7 17. Desperate Housewives ABC 7.5
5. NCIS CBS 11.8 17. Grey’s Anatomy ABC 7.5
5. Dancing with the Stars-Results ABC 11.8 21. Survivor CBS 7.4
7. NCIS: LA CBS 10.1 22. Harry’s Law NBC 7.3
8. The Mentalist CBS 9.6 22. CSI: Miami CBS 7.3
9. Body of Proof ABC 9.0 22. Castle ABC 7.3
10. Criminal Minds CBS 8.7 25. Undercover Boss CBS 7.1
11. The Good Wife CBS 8.5 25. Modern Family ABC 7.1
12. 60 Minutes CBS 8.4 27. The Bachelor ABC 7.0
12. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS 8.4 27. Bones FOX 7.0
14. Big Bang Theory CBS 8.0 29. Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior CBS 6.9
14. Blue Bloods CBS 8.0 29. Mike & Molly CBS 6.9


September 2011-May 2012

Program Network Rating Program Network Rating
1. Sunday Night Football NBC 12.4 16. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS 8.0
2. NCIS CBS 12.3 16. Castle ABC 8.0
3. Dancing with the Stars ABC 12.0 18. Unforgettable CBS 7.9
4. American Idol-Wednesday FOX 11.8 19. Blue Bloods CBS 7.8
5. American Idol-Thursday FOX 11.0 19. The Good Wife CBS 7.8
6. Dancing with the Stars-Results ABC 10.6 21. Hawaii Five-0 CBS 7.6
7. NCIS: LA CBS 10.2 21. Grey’s Anatomy ABC 7.6
8. Big Bang Theory CBS 9.7 23. X Factor-Thursday FOX 7.4
9. The Mentalist CBS 9.3 23. X Factor-Wednesday FOX 7.4
10. The Voice NBC 9.2 25. Mike & Molly CBS 7.2
11. Two and a Half Men CBS 9.1 25. Rob CBS 7.2
12. Person of Interest CBS 9.0 27. CSI: Miami CBS 7.1
13. Criminal Minds CBS 8.6 28. 2 Broke Girls CBS 7.0
14. 60 Minutes CBS 8.3 28. Desperate Housewives ABC 7.0
15. Modern Family ABC 8.1 28. Once Upon a Time ABC 7.0


September 2012-May 2013

Program Network Rating Program Network Rating
1. NCIS CBS 13.5 16. 60 Minutes CBS 8.0
2. Sunday Night Football NBC 12.4 16. Criminal Minds CBS 8.0
3. Big Bang Theory CBS 11.6 18. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS 7.7
4. NCIS: LA CBS 11.0 18. Grey’s Anatomy ABC 7.7
5. Person of Interest CBS 10.0 18. The Mentalist CBS 7.7
6. Dancing with the Stars ABC 9.9 18. Modern Family ABC 7.7
7. American Idol-Wednesday FOX 9.2 18. Vegas CBS 7.7
7. Dancing with the Stars-Results ABC 9.2 23. Body of Proof ABC 7.3
9. American Idol-Thursday FOX 8.9 23. CSI: New York CBS 7.3
10. Two and a Half Men CBS 8.7 23. The Following FOX 7.3
10. The Voice NBC 8.7 23. The Good Wife CBS 7.3
12. Blue Bloods CBS 8.5 23. Survivor: Philippines CBS 7.3
13. The Voice: Tuesday NBC 8.4 28. 2 Broke Girls CBS 6.8
14. Elementary CBS 8.3 28. Hawaii Five-0 CBS 6.8
15. Castle ABC 8.1 30. Survivor: Caramoan CBS 6.7


The Top 100 Series of All Time (Updated Through 2012-13 Season)

Here are the all time top 100 prime time series. The ranking is based not on opinion but on two objective factors: audience size when the show aired, and its longevity. Note how many current shows are among the all time most popular: 10 out of the top 30 all time series are currently on the air. As a special online bonus, at the end we list some series that are still on the air and currently rank between #101 and #200. They’re just outside the golden circle, but if they stay on the air and keep attracting big audiences they could be next to crack the top 100 (conversely older shows at the bottom of the top 100 list would then get pushed out). It’s unlikely that anything will dislodge 60 Minutes from the number one slot anytime soon, however. It currently has more than twice the overall audience total as number two Gunsmoke.

 

Program Network(s) From To Seasons
1. 60 Minutes CBS 1968 —- 45
2. Gunsmoke CBS 1955 1975 20
3. The Red Skelton Show CBS, NBC 1951 1971 20
4. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS 2000 —- 13
5. ER NBC 1994 2009 15
6. American Idol FOX 2002 —- 12
7. Bonanza NBC 1959 1973 14
8. All in the Family/Archie Bunker’s Place CBS 1971 1983 13
9. Walt Disney ABC, NBC, CBS 1954 1990 34
10. The Ed Sullivan Show/Toast of the Town CBS 1948 1971 24
11. Friends NBC 1994 2004 10
12. The Lucy Show/Here’s Lucy CBS 1962 1974 12
13. Murder, She Wrote CBS 1984 1996 12
14. M*A*S*H CBS 1972 1983 11
15. Cheers NBC 1982 1993 11
16. Survivor CBS 2000 —- 14
17. Dallas CBS 1978 1991 14
18. Dancing with the Stars ABC 2005 —- 9
19. NCIS CBS 2003 —- 10
20. The Cosby Show NBC 1984 1992 8
21. Frasier NBC 1993 2004 11
22. The Andy Griffith Show CBS 1960 1968 8
23. Roseanne ABC 1988 1997 9
24. Law & Order NBC 1990 2010 20
25. Two and a Half Men CBS 2003 —- 10
26. Home Improvement ABC 1991 1999 8
27. CSI: Miami CBS 2002 —- 10
28. 20/20 ABC 1978 —- 36
29. The Jack Benny Show CBS, NBC 1950 1965 15
30. Grey’s Anatomy ABC 2005 —- 9
31. Three’s Company/Three’s a Crowd ABC 1977 1985 9
32. I Love Lucy CBS 1951 1961 8
33. The Danny Thomas Show ABC, CBS 1953 1971 13
34. The Beverly Hillbillies CBS 1962 1971 9
35. You Bet Your Life NBC 1950 1961 11
36. Everybody Loves Raymond CBS 1996 2005 9
37. Happy Days ABC 1974 1984 11
38. Desperate Housewives ABC 2004 2012 8
39. I’ve Got a Secret CBS 1952 1967 15
40. Dragnet/Dragnet ’67 NBC 1952 1970 12
41. Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts CBS 1948 1958 11
42. The Jeffersons CBS 1975 1985 11
43. Seinfeld NBC 1990 1998 9
44. Hawaii Five-O CBS 1968 1980 12
45. The Jackie Gleason Show CBS 1952 1970 15
46. N.Y.P.D. Blue ABC 1993 2005 12
47. One Day at a Time CBS 1975 1984 9
48. The Golden Girls/The Golden Palace NBC, CBS 1985 1993 8
49. Without a Trace CBS 2002 2009 7
50. Laverne & Shirley ABC 1976 1983 8
51. The Milton Berle Show NBC, ABC 1948 1967 11
52. Sanford and Son NBC 1972 1977 6
53. Criminal Minds CBS 2005 —- 8
54. Murphy Brown CBS 1988 1998 10
55. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. CBS 1964 1970 6
56. Dynasty ABC 1981 1989 9
57. Alice CBS 1976 1985 9
58. Wagon Train NBC, ABC 1957 1965 8
59. Candid Camera CBS, NBC, ABC, PAX 1948 2005 18
60. A Different World NBC 1987 1993 6
61. My Three Sons ABC, CBS 1960 1972 12
62. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit NBC 1999 —- 14
63. Who’s the Boss? ABC 1984 1992 8
64. Bewitched ABC 1964 1972 8
65. The Love Boat ABC 1977 1986 9
66. Fireside Theatre NBC, ABC 1949 1963 11
67. Little House on the Prairie NBC 1974 1983 9
68. Coach ABC 1989 1997 9
69. The Mentalist CBS 2008 —- 5
70. The Waltons CBS 1972 1981 9
71. Have Gun, Will Travel CBS 1957 1963 6
72. Touched by an Angel CBS 1994 2003 9
73. House FOX, MNT 2004 —- 9
74. General Electric Theater CBS 1953 1962 10
75. Falcon Crest CBS 1981 1990 9
76. America’s Funniest Home Videos ABC 1990 —- 23
77. Arthur Godfrey and His Friends CBS 1949 1959 10
78. The Mary Tyler Moore Show CBS 1970 1977 7
79. NCIS: LA CBS 2009 —- 4
80. Primetime Live/Primetime Thursday ABC 1989 2012 21
81. Maude CBS 1972 1978 6
82. Marcus Welby, M.D. ABC 1969 1976 7
83. Family Ties NBC 1982 1989 7
84. Magnum, P.I. CBS 1980 1988 8
85. Ironside NBC 1967 1975 8
86. The Colgate Comedy Hour NBC 1950 1955 6
87. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In NBC 1968 1973 6
88. CSI: NY CBS 2004 2013 9
89. Full House ABC 1987 1995 8
90. Big Bang Theory CBS 2007 —- 6
91. Knot’s Landing CBS 1979 1993 14
92. December Bride CBS 1954 1960 6
93. Family Affair CBS 1966 1971 5
94. Night Court NBC 1984 1992 9
95. The Dean Martin Show NBC 1965 1974 9
96. Growing Pains ABC 1985 1992 7
97. The Dukes of Hazzard CBS 1979 1985 7
98. Will & Grace NBC 1998 2006 8
99. The Virginian NBC 1962 1971 9
100. The Dick Van Dyke Show CBS 1961 1966 5
132. The Bachelor/Bachelorette ABC 2002 —- 12
141. 48 Hours CBS 1988 —- 26
148. The Apprentice NBC 2004 —- 10
150. Dateline NBC NBC 1992 —- 22
155. Castle ABC 2009 —- 5
161. The Good Wife CBS 2009 —- 4
173. Cops FOX, Spike 1989 —- 24
174. The Simpsons FOX 1989 —- 23
181. Blue Bloods CBS 2010 —- 3
190. Person of Interest CBS 2011 —- 2
200. The Voice NBC 2011 —- 3

 

 

This page was last modified on October 31st, 2013.
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