The 100 Most-Watched TV Shows of 2017-2018

Admit it. This is something you really want to know, right? Even though you aren’t an advertiser. Well, Michael Schneider’s here to tell ya!

by Michael Schneider

If there was a recurring theme during the recent broadcast network upfronts, it was this: Ratings must die. “We are in a new era of media and it’s time to retire the Nielsen television metric,” Turner president David Levy said. “While it undoubtedly served its purpose, it no longer fully captures how to successfully measure an audience in today’s landscape.”

Of course, complaining about Nielsen and traditional ratings is nothing new. And these days, virtually every outlet has embraced its own version of multi-platform program measurement — including TV, DVR, VOD and streaming viewership. Levy pointed to audience targeting and other methods as better ways of selling their wares. At the NBCUniversal upfront, ad sales chairman Linda Yaccarino pushed the company’s new “CFlight” metric.

“I still cannot believe I have to get up this stage and talk about legacy measurement,” Yaccarino said, dismissing the current “C3” standard (which measures three days worth of commercial viewing). When the C3 was introduced in 2007, she quipped, “Meghan Markle was on ‘Deal Or No Deal.’”

Nonetheless, getting everyone on the same page remains difficult. Rob Tuck, The CW’s executive vice president of national sales, notes that ad agencies are reluctant to completely get rid of tools that include Nielsen ratings.

“I have a hard time believing that the agency side and client side of this business is going to give up the currency and pricing that they’ve had for a very long time,” Tuck told reporters on an upfronts conference call. “That’s a challenge on both sides. But I don’t see that going away anytime soon.”

Tuck added: “We have been as vocal with Nielsen and the frustrations we have. We’ve been looking at the multiplatform and bringing it together for a long time… if business can figure out the ratings and currency in some form across a multi-platform distribution, you can layer on top of that all of the other stuff everyone’s been talking about.”

Ratings are also still the best way to compare the linear performance of shows both on broadcast and cable. And with another TV season drawing to a close, IndieWire looked at the Season-to-Date rankers for broadcast and cable, using the most recent Live+7 ratings (which include seven days’ worth of DVR and video on-demand usage).

Here’s a final look at some of the hits and misses of 2017–2018, followed by our complete list of the most-watched shows of the season, according to both adults 18-49 and total viewers….

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