List of most watched television broadcasts

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The following content contains the tentative list of the most watched television broadcasts around the world in selected countries, with the corresponding peak viewership (or ratings share) records, the corresponding year of such broadcast, and the mentioned media research organizations tallying nationwide viewership records. Take note, however, that the most watched television broadcast in any of the following nations can also be broadcast simultaneously.

Global[edit]

On 20 July 1969, an estimated 530 million people watched the live global broadcast of the First ever humans walk on the surface of the moon (this constituted around 14% of total population of the world at the time),[1][2] despite the fact that the first moonwalk took place in the middle of the night in Europe (at 02:56 in Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom and 03:56 in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain) and it was not broadcast in the Eastern Bloc[3] except Romania[4] and Poland.[5]

IPG independent media agency Initiative Worldwide estimated that 260 million people worldwide watched the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final (the average audience for the broadcast of the game).[6] Six hundred million watched some part of the game (the "reach").[7] In 2010 another independent firm estimated that 322 million viewers watched the 2006 final on average, with a reach of 638 million.[8] None of these figures match the estimate by event organizers FIFA, a "global cumulative audience" of 715.1 million people.[9][10]

U.S. television programming remains one of the most popular forms of entertainment worldwide. This trend was initiated by U.S.-made soap operas and sitcoms such as Dallas, M*A*S*H, The Cosby Show, Seinfeld and Friends, which aired from the early 1980s until the mid-2000s, and then in the late 2000s and 2010s by U.S. medical dramas and police procedurals such as House, CSI and NCIS franchises. All of these are currently syndicated in more than 100 countries, reaching almost 1 billion viewers around the world, and rank among the most watched television series in the world, extending their dominance to a 3-decade span. The annual Miss Universe pageant, headquartered in the U.S. and broadcast in almost 200 countries and hosted by different selected nations, is said to have regularly attracted almost 700 million viewers and ranks among the all-time most watched regularly scheduled yearend television programs in the world.[11]

Around the same period, the global dominance of U.S. television remains rivaled by European television and telenovelas produced both from Latin America and Asia as of 2010s. The annual Eurovision Song Contest, considered to be one of the world's longest running and most watched reality television franchises, is annually reported to have between 100 and 600 million viewers, depending on the source.[12][13] Prominent personalities in the 1990s and 2000s such as David Hasselhoff and Mexico's Thalia (currently based in the U.S.) starred in primetime series such as the Las Tres Marias trilogy shows (Maria Mercedes, Marimar and Maria la del Barrio), Rosalinda and Baywatch, which were broadcast to almost 2 billion viewers in about 180 countries and still remained among the world's most watched non-U.S.-produced television series. Idols, airing since its inception in 2001, remains as the international television franchise with the largest collective global viewership in the world to date, shown in versions in over 150 countries worldwide and watched by at least 6.5 billion viewers (more than 90% of the world's 7-billion human population).[14]

The 2011 Cricket World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka was watched live by 135 million people in India,[15][16] including 67.6 million Indian cable and satellite viewers.,[17] as recorded by the ratings agencies TAM and aMap[15][16] The game was watched by 13.6% of Indian TV-equipped households on average, with a peak of 21.44% at the end of the game.[18] The 2011 final drew more viewers than the semi-final between India and Pakistan, which had an estimated 11.74% TV rating in India for the whole match.[19] This was far less than the figures given by overseas media at the time.[20][21][22] Even the game's broadcaster, Star Sports, only "estimated" an audience of 300 million for the semi-final.[23]

The 2008 Summer Olympics boasts the official world record for the largest global viewership, and the highest peak viewer share in the world for a multi-day television broadcast. It is estimated by Nielsen Media Research that between 4.7 billion and 5 billion individual viewers (or around 70% of the world's 7-billion human population) watched some part of the coverage, including its peak final hour of the live broadcast of the closing ceremony in August 2008.[24][25]

In recent decades, the majority of the reality television franchises broadcasts and international sporting events (which are broadcast live in several countries, regardless of the origin of the program's transmission) tend to comprise some of the most watched television programs around the world, as tallied by their media research bases.[26][27]

National[edit]

Australia[edit]

Most watched broadcasts of all time (Total Viewers)[edit]

The following is David Dale's approximate ranking of the most watched television shows of all time in Australia using data from Nielsen Corporation and OzTAM[28]

Rank Show Date Network
1 Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales 1997 ABC, Seven Network, Nine Network, Ten Network
2 Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer 1981 ABC, Seven Network, Nine Network, Ten Network
3 2000 Summer Olympics closing ceremony 2000 Seven Network
4 2000 Summer Olympics opening ceremony 2000 Seven Network
5 Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton 2011 ABC, Seven Network, Nine Network, Ten Network
6 1984 Summer Olympics opening ceremony 1984 Ten Network
7 The World of The Seekers 1968 Ten Network
8 Boxing: Lionel Rose v Alan Rudkin 1964 Seven Network
9 The Sound of Music 1977 Nine Network
10 Roots (miniseries) 1977 Ten Network

Most viewed broadcasts since 2001 (OzTAM 5 City Metro Average)[edit]

The following table is a list of the most viewed programmes based on the OzTAM 5 City Metro Average rating system.[29][30] It does not include regional numbers (40% of the population) and uses the average viewership, not the peak viewership.

Rank Show Number of viewers Ratings Year Network
1 2011 British Royal Wedding 6.0 Million -- 2011 ABC, Network 7, Network 9, Network Ten, 7Two[31]
2 2005 Australian Open – Men's Singles Final 4.043 Million 29.3 2005 Seven Network
3 MasterChef Australia (season 2) – finale challenge 4.029 Million 27.1 2010 Network Ten
4 2003 Rugby World Cup Final 4.016 Million 29.7 2003 Seven Network
5 MasterChef Australia (season 1) – finale challenge 3.726 Million 25.6 2009 Network Ten
6 2006 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony 3.561 Million 25.5 2006 Nine Network
7 2005 AFL Grand Final (Sydney Swans v West Coast Eagles) 3.386 Million 24.5 2005 Network Ten
8 The Block (season 4): Winner Announced 3.370 Million 21.9 2011 Nine Network
9 Australian Idol: Final Verdict 3.344 Million 24.5 2002 Network Ten
10 The Voice: Grand Final 2012 3.238 Million 21.2 2012 Nine Network

Brazil[edit]

Rank Show Episode Rating Share Date Channel
1 Roque Santeiro Episode 209
96[32]
100% 22 February 1986 Rede Globo
2 Atletico Nacional X Gremio Copa Libertadores - Final
86
96% (projection) 30 August 1995 Rede Globo
3 Tieta Episode 105
78
31 March 1990 Rede Globo

Canada[edit]

The most watched television broadcast in Canadian history was the Gold medal game of the men's hockey tournament at the 2010 Winter Olympics, played between the United States and Canada. A confirmed 16.6 million Canadians watched the whole game, roughly one-half of the country's entire population.[33] A groundbreaking 26.5 million Canadians watched some part of the game, over 80 percent of the country's 34-million-person population.[34] According to multiple sources, 13.3 million Canadians watched the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, which was the previous record.[35]

Many believed the final game of the 1972 Summit Series had up to 18 million viewers, but this was not so; only 4.3 million people watched it. This statistic does not represent the reality that most school children (representing the tail end of the baby-boom ie. a large population) nationwide watched the game in gymnasiums on only one or two TVs. 10.3 million people watched the ice hockey gold medal final of the 2002 Winter Olympics.[36]

On August 20, 2016, the final concert of Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip's 2016 tour, supporting their album Man Machine Poem, was viewed at some point by approximately 11.7 million Canadians—around one-third of the country's population.[37] The concert, which took place in the band's hometown of Kingston, Ontario, is widely believed to be the last show the band will perform, due to lead singer Gord Downie's diagnosis of terminal glioblastoma.

China[edit]

China Central Television's Spring Festival Gala has regularly attracted between 700 million[38] to one billion viewers annually.[39]

The CCTV's main evening news broadcast Xinwen Lianbo has a daily audience of around 135 million people,[40] and it is also one of the most expensive shows in the world per advertising spots, with its 2013 advertising slots selling for a record of 5.4 billion yuan.[40]

Germany[edit]

Rank Show Episode Number of viewers Share Date Network
1 2014 FIFA World Cup Germany vs Argentina (final) 34,650,000 86.3% 13 July 2014 Das Erste
2 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil vs Germany (semi-final) 32,570,000 87.8% 8 July 2014 ZDF
3 2010 FIFA World Cup Germany vs Spain (semi-final) 31,100,000 1, 4 83.2% 7 July 2010 Das Erste
4 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany vs Italy (semi-final) 29,660,000 1, 2, 3 84.1% 4 July 2006 ZDF
5 UEFA Euro 2008 Germany vs Turkey (semi-final) 29,460,000 81.6% 25 June 2008 ZDF
6 2010 FIFA World Cup Ghana vs. Germany (group game) 29,190,000 1, 4 79.7% 23 June 2010 Das Erste
7 1990 FIFA World Cup West Germany vs Argentina (final) 28,660,000 87.9% 9 July 1990 Das Erste
8 UEFA Euro 1996 Germany vs Czech Republic (final) 28,440,000 76.3% 30 June 1996 ZDF
9 2014 FIFA World Cup Germany vs Algeria (Round of 16) 28,210,000 85.1% 30 June 2014 ZDF
10 UEFA Euro 2008 Austria vs Germany (group game) 28,040,000 1, 5 76.9% 16 June 2008 ZDF
11 UEFA Euro 2012 Germany vs Italy (semi-final) 27,980,000 6 76.8% 28 June 2012 Das Erste
12 The Black Forest Clinic "Die Schuldfrage" ("The question of guilt") 27,970,000 17 November 1985 ZDF
13 2010 FIFA World Cup Germany vs Australia (group game) 27,910,000 1, 4 74.4% 13 June 2010 Das Erste
14 UEFA Euro 2008 Portugal vs Germany (quarter-final) 27,700,000 1, 5 78.7% 19 June 2008 Das Erste
15 UEFA Euro 2012 Denmark vs Germany (group game) 27,650,000 74.2% 13 June 2012 ZDF
16 2014 FIFA World Cup USA vs Germany (group game) 27,250,000 84.2% 26 June 2014 ZDF

Note: The UEFA Euro 2008 final is missing from the list, because the lengthy trophy presentation was included into the official ratings. The game itself was watched by 28.05 million viewers.[41]

Ireland[edit]

A list of most-watched shows in the Republic of Ireland in the 21st century was released in January 2015. The Late Late Toy Show held the top six spots, with the 2014 edition drawing 1,593,000 viewers: over one-third of the country's population. Other high-performing shows were Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, crime drama Love/Hate, Mrs. Brown's Boys, The Sunday Game, UEFA Euro 2012 and the Eurovision Song Contest.[42]

Japan[edit]

The following list is for Japanese anime only.

No. Show Household Rating Date Network
1 Chibi Maruko-chan 39.9%[43][44] October 28, 1990 Fuji TV
2 Sazae-san 39.4% September 16, 1979 Fuji TV
3 Dr. Slump 36.9% December 16, 1981 Fuji TV
4 Dokonjō Gaeru 34.5% February 23, 1979 NTV
5 Japanese Folklore Tales 2 33.6% January 10, 1981 TBS
6 Lupin the Third 32.5% December 8, 1978 NTV
7 Touch 31.9% December 22, 1985 Fuji TV
8 Ashita no Joe 31.6% March 13, 1980 NTV
9 Doraemon 31.2% February 11, 1983 TV Asahi
10 GeGeGe no Kitarō 29.6% March 22, 1986 Fuji TV

New Zealand[edit]

In 2011, the television website Throng published a list of the 12 most watched television broadcasts in New Zealand from 1995 to 2011. This is based on average viewership of the program, but it does not include broadcasts from before 1995 or after 2011.[45]

The Rugby World Cup has frequently had large audiences – the Rugby World Cup 2011 final, and a semi-final, both had an average audience of over 2 million.

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No. Show Viewship Date Network
01 2011 Rugby World Cup Final (NZ v France) 2,036,900 October 23, 2011 TV 1, TV 3, Prime, Sky Sports, Maori TV
02 2011 Rugby World Cup Semi-final (NZ v Australia) 2,024,000 October 16, 2011 TV 1, TV 3, Prime, Sky Sports, Maori TV
03 2011 Rugby World Cup Opening Game (NZ v Tonga) 1,930,000 September 9, 2011 TV 1, Prime, Sky Sports, Maori TV
04 Boxing: Lennox Lewis vs. David Tua World Title Defence 1,841,230 November 12, 2000 TV 3
05 One News special – Death of Diana, Princess of Wales 1,703,310 August 31, 1997 TV 1
06 2000 Summer Olympics opening ceremony 1,654,310 September 15, 2000 TV 1
07 One News special – Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales 1,649,710 September 6, 1997 TV 1
08 2011 Rugby World Cup Qtr Final (NZ v Argentina) 1,624,400 October 9, 2011 TV 1, TV 3, Prime, Sky Sports, Maori TV
09 2003 Rugby World Cup Final (England v Australia) 1,604,800 November 22, 2003 TV 1
10 Martin Bashir's interview with Diana, Princess of Wales 1,516,780 November 21, 1995 TV 2
11 2011 Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony 1,499,160 September 9, 2011 TV 1
12 2007 Rugby World Cup (NZ v France) 1,410,410 October 7, 2007 TV 3

Philippines[edit]

Kantar[edit]

Kantar Media Philippines officially released its national television audience measurement data on January 2009 via Taylor Nelson Sofres/TNS. Since then, these are the shows that posted the all-time highest television ratings in the Philippines. Still, take note that the ratings are from a single highest recorded episode of the show (in the case of the TV series) and it is not the average over-all ratings for the whole season/series.

Highest rated television programs in the Philippines since January 2009
(Kantar Media tallies)
Rank Network Program Rating Year
1 ABS-CBN May Bukas Pa 47.3% 2010
2 ABS-CBN FPJ's: Ang Probinsyano 46.7% 2016
3 ABS-CBN The Voice Kids 46.3% 2015
4 ABS-CBN Tayong Dalawa 45.9% 2009
5 GMA Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto 45.8% 2009
6 ABS-CBN Walang Hanggan 45.4% 2012
7 GMA Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley II 45.1% 2014
8 ABS-CBN Agua Bendita 44.9% 2010
9 ABS-CBN TV Patrol 44.8% 2009
10 ABS-CBN Pinoy Big Brother: Double Up 44.6% 2010
11 ABS-CBN Pangako Sa 'Yo 44.5% 2015
12 ABS-CBN Mara Clara 43.4% 2011
13 ABS-CBN Pilipinas Got Talent 43.3% 2010
14 GMA Manny Pacquiao vs. Chris Algieri 43.1% 2014
15 ABS-CBN Dahil May Isang Ikaw 42.9% 2010
16 ABS-CBN Ina, Kapatid, Anak 2013
17 ABS-CBN Kung Tayo'y Magkakalayo 42.7% 2010
18 ABS-CBN Juan dela Cruz 42.6% 2013
19 ABS-CBN Nathaniel 42.0% 2015
20 GMA Ricky Hatton vs. Manny Pacquiao 41.9% 2009
21 GMA Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito 41.5% 2010
22 ABS-CBN I Love Betty La Fea 41.3% 2009
22 GMA Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey 41.3% 2010
23 ABS-CBN Maalaala Mo Kaya 40.9% 2013
24 ABS-CBN Princess and I 40.6% 2010
24 ABS-CBN PiliPinas Debates 2016 - Luzon leg 40.6% 2016
25 GMA Eat Bulaga! 40.1% 2015
26 ABS-CBN Only You 40.0% 2009
27 ABS-CBN Noah 39.9% 2010
28 ABS-CBN Forevermore 39.3% 2015
29 ABS-CBN Minsan Lang Kita Iibigin 39.1% 2011
30 GMA Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez III 38.9% 2011
31 ABS-CBN 100 Days to Heaven 38.7% 2011
32 ABS-CBN Got to Believe 38.6% 2013

AGB Nielsen[edit]

The following table shows the all-time highest rating television shows in Mega Manila as tallied by AGB Nielsen Philippines since 1992. Take note, however, that the ratings are from a mono highest recorded episode of the show (in the case of the TV series) and it is not the average over-all ratings for the whole season/series.

Highest rated television programs in the Philippines since 1992
(AGB Nielsen tallies)[46][47]
Rank Network Program Year Rating
1 ABS-CBN Manny Pacquiao vs. Erik Morales 2006 83.5%
2 ABS-CBN Rosalinda 2000 69.8%
3 ABS-CBN Esperanza 1997 67.0%
4 ABS-CBN Pangako Sa 'Yo 2002 64.9%
5 ABS-CBN Meteor Garden 2003 63.8%
6 ABS-CBN Miss Universe 1994 1994 62.5%
7 RPN Marimar 1996 61.7%
8 ABS-CBN María Mercedes 1996 59.7%
9 RPN Miss Universe 1999 1999 58.4%
10 GMA Bubble Gang 1997 57.6%
11 ABS-CBN Maalaala Mo Kaya 1992 57.3%
12 ABS-CBN Balitang K 1998 56.6%
13 ABS-CBN Wansapanataym 1997 56.4%
14 ABS-CBN TV Patrol 1996 56.0%
15 GMA i-Witness 1999 55.3%
16 ABS-CBN Magandang Gabi, Bayan 2000 55.0%
17 ABS-CBN Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar Larios 2006 54.4%
18 GMA Darna 2005 54.3%
19 ABS-CBN Mula Sa Puso 1997 53.7%
20 RPN Manny Pacquiao vs. Marco Antonio Barrera 2003 52.9%
21 ABC 2005 Southeast Asian Games 2005 52.6%
21 GMA MariMar 2007 52.6%
22 ABS-CBN Basta't Kasama Kita 2004 52.5%
23 ABS-CBN Star Circle Teen Quest 2004 52.3%
24 ABS-CBN Flames 1996 51.9%
25 GMA Encantadia 2005 51.7%
26 ABS-CBN Marina 2004 50.8%
26 GMA Eat Bulaga! 2015 50.8%
27 ABS-CBN Pinoy Big Brother 2005 50.4%
27 GMA Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto 2009 50.4%
28 GMA Ricky Hatton vs. Manny Pacquiao 2009 49.8%
29 GMA Manny Pacquiao vs. Marco Antonio Barrera 2 2007 49.5%
29 ABS-CBN Manny Pacquiao vs. Erik Morales 3 2006 49.5%
30 ABS-CBN Sana'y Wala Nang Wakas 2003 49.3%

Portugal[edit]

[48][49][50] [51][52][53][54][55][56][57]

Rank Show Episode Rating Share Date Channel
1 UEFA Euro 2004 Portugal vs The Netherlands (semi-final) 40.9 87.2% 30 June 2004 RTP1
2 UEFA Euro 2012 Portugal vs Spain (semi-final) 39.5 76.0% 27 June 2012 SIC
3 UEFA Euro 2004 Portugal vs England (quarter-final) 39.0 85.1% 24 June 2004 RTP1
4 UEFA Euro 2016 Portugal vs Wales (semi-final) 38.4 75.4% 6 July 2016 RTP1
4 UEFA Euro 2016 Portugal vs France (final) 38.2 78.1% 10 July 2016 RTP1
5 UEFA Euro 2012 Portugal vs The Netherlands (group stage match) 38.1 73.4% 17 June 2012 TVI
6 UEFA Euro 2016 Portugal vs France (final) 38 78.2% 10 July 2016 RTP1
6 2014 FIFA World Cup United States vs Portugal (group stage match) 37.8 75.4% 22 June 2014 RTP1
6 UEFA Euro 2004 Portugal vs Greece (final) 37.7 89.7% 4 July 2004 RTP1
7 UEFA Euro 2016 Poland vs Portugal (quarter-final) 37.4 69.9% 30 June 2016 RTP1
7 2006 FIFA World Cup Portugal vs France (semi-final) 37.2 82.3% 5 July 2006 SIC
8 A Próxima Vítima The Last Episode 37.1 80.2% 19 January 1996 SIC
9 UEFA Euro 2012 Czech Republic vs Portugal (quarter-final) 36.1 71.7% 21 June 2012 RTP1
10 UEFA Euro 2004 Russia vs Portugal (group stage match) 35.5 81.4% 16 June 2004 SIC
11 UEFA Euro 2016 Portugal vs Iceland (group stage match) 35.1 68.6% 14 June 2016 RTP1
11 UEFA Euro 2004 Spain vs Portugal (group stage match) 34.9 83.2% 20 June 2004 TVI
12 2006 FIFA World Cup Portugal vs The Netherlands (round of 16) 34.9 80.7% 25 June 2006 SIC
13 UEFA Euro 2008 Portugal vs Germany (quarter-finals) 34.5 75.6% 19 June 2008 TVI
14 2015 Portuguese legislative election Debate: António Costa vs. Pedro Passos Coelho 34.1 66% 10 September 2015 RTP1, SIC, TVI
15 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification Sweden vs Portugal (second leg playoff match) 34.1 62.2% 19 November 2013 RTP1
15 UEFA Europa League SL Benfica vs Chelsea FC (final) 33.8 62.3% 16 May 2013 SIC
16 UEFA Euro 2000 France vs. Portugal (Semi-finals) 33.2 76.7% 28 June 2000 RTP1
17 2006 FIFA World Cup Angola vs Portugal (group stage match) 32.8 80.9% 11 June 2006 SIC
18 UEFA Euro 2012 Germany vs Portugal (group stage match) 32.4 68.3% 9 June 2012 RTP1
18 UEFA Champions League Monaco vs Porto (final) 31.7 70.5% 26 May 2004 RTP1
18 UEFA Euro 2016 Croatia vs Portugal (Round of 16) 31.3 70% 26 June 2016 RTP1
19 UEFA Europa League Sevilla FC vs SL Benfica (final) 31.1 61.4% 14 May 2014 SIC
20 UEFA Champions League Real Madrid vs Atlético Madrid (final) 30.8 64.3% 24 May 2014 TVI
21 Terra Nostra Brazilian telenovela 30.8 64% 11 January 2000 SIC
22 2006 FIFA World Cup Portugal vs Iran 30.4 83.1% 17 June 2006 SIC
23 UEFA Europa League Juventus FC vs SL Benfica (semi-final) 30.4 58.9% 1 May 2014 SIC
24 Big Brother Portugal Live eviction show 30.2 72.5% 26 December 2000 TVI
25 UEFA Cup Sporting CP vs CSKA Moscow (Final) 30.1 68.4% 18 May 2005 RTP1
26 Taça de Portugal SL Benfica vs Sporting CP (Sixth round) 29.9 62.6% 26 January 2005 RTP1
27 Torre de Babel Brazilian telenovela 29.8 77.1% 2 April 1999 SIC
28 UEFA Euro 2008 Switzerland vs Portugal 29.8 71.8% 15 June 2008 TVI
29 UEFA Cup Celtic FC vs FC Porto 29.7 67.5% 21 May 2003 SIC
30 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany vs Portugal (Third place play-off) 29.6 78.4% 8 July 2006 SIC
31 2006 FIFA World Cup England vs Portugal (quarter-finals) 29.2 88.1% 1 July 2006 SIC
32 UEFA Champions League Barcelona vs Benfica(quarter-finals) 29.3 65.6% 5 April 2006 RTP1
33 2010 FIFA World Cup Spain vs Portugal (Round of 16) 29.1 75.9% 29 June 2010 RTP1
34 Médico de Família Portuguese TV series 27.9 61.4% 16 March 1999 SIC

South Korea[edit]

Viewership ratings are provided by two companies in South Korea, AGB Nielsen Media Research and TNmS. Originally Media Service Korea was the only company providing such information, and it was later acquired by Nielsen Media Research. In 1999 TNS Media Korea also began such service, and later changed its name to TNmS. AGB collects viewership data based on 2050 households, while TNmS has 2000 households with measuring devices. Drama ratings usually vary between the two companies by 2-3%.[58]

Most watched South Korean dramas since 1992 (AGB Nielsen tallies)
# Drama Channel Viewership Date
1. First Love KBS2 65.8% 20 April 1997
2. What is Love MBC 64.9% 24 May 1992
3. Sandglass SBS 64.5% 6 February 1995
4. Hur Jun MBC 63.7% 27 June 2000
5. Sunny Place of Youth KBS2 62.7% 12 November 1995
6. You and I MBC 62.4% 12 April 1998
7. The Son and the Daughter MBC 61.1% 21 March 1993
8. Taejo Wang Geon KBS1 60.2% 20 May 2001
9. Eyes of Dawn MBC 58.4% 6 February 1992
10. Dae Jang Geum MBC 57.8% 23 March 2004
11. Lovers in Paris SBS 57.6% 15 August 2004
12. See and See Again MBC 57.3% 12 October 1998
13. Truth MBC 56.5% 24 February 2000
14. Jealousy MBC 56.1% 21 July 1992
15. Even When the Wind Blows KBS1 55.8% 26 February 1996
16. Bathhouse Men KBS2 53.4% 25 August 1996
17. Gook Hee (tie) MBC 53.1% 16 November 1999
17. Trap of Youth (tie) SBS 53.1% 15 April 1999
19. Tomato SBS 52.7% 3 June 1999
20. M MBC 52.2% 30 August 1994
21. Season of the Storm MBC 52.1% 22 December 1993
22. Jumong MBC 51.9% 6 March 2007
23. Rustic Period SBS 51.8% 9 December 2002
24. My Mother’s Sea MBC 51.6% 26 December 1993
25. Baker King Kim Tak Gu KBS2 50.8% 16 September 2010
26. My Name is Kim Sam Soon MBC 50.5% 21 July 2005
27. The Legend of Ambition KBS2 50.2% 25 October 1998
28. Ladies of the Palace SBS 49.9% 13 November 2001
29. My Son’s Woman MBC 49.7% 22 February 1994
29. Unexpected You KBS2 49.7% 9 September 2012
31. Tears of the Dragon KBS1 49.6% 30 May 1998
32. Star in My Heart MBC 49.3% 29 April 1997
33. Famous Princesses KBS2 49.2% 31 December 2006
34. Ambition MBC 49.0% 23 February 1994
35. The Moon of Seoul MBC 48.7% 27 March 1994
35. The Tie that Binds KBS1 48.7% 11 December 1997
37. Last Match MBC 48.6% 22 February 1994
38. My Too Perfect Sons KBS2 48.6% 11 October 2009
39. All About Eve MBC 48.3% 6 July 2000
40. How About Your Husband? SBS 48.2% 25 May 1993
41. Cinderella MBC 48.0% 13 July 1997
42. Miss Mermaid MBC 47.9% 5 February 2003
43. All In SBS 47.7% 3 April 2003
44. Until We Love (tie) KBS1 47.1% 27 February 1997
44. Brilliant Legacy SBS 47.1% 26 July 2009
46. My Rosy Life KBS2 47.0% 12 October 2005
46. Moon Embracing the Sun MBC 47.0% 1 March 2012
48. Pilot MBC 46.2% 2 November 1993
49. Autumn in My Heart KBS2 46.1% October 2000
50. Family Wealthy of Daughters KBS2 45.9% 22 January 1995

Sweden[edit]

Statistics from Mediamätning Skandinavien.[59]

Most watched programmes per year[edit]

Year Programme Date Number of viewers (millions) Network
2000 Melodifestivalen 2000 10 March 4.175 SVT2
2001 Melodifestivalen 2001 23 February 3.84 SVT1
2002 Melodifestivalen 2002 1 March 3.72 SVT1
2003 Melodifestivalen 2003 15 March 3.815 SVT1
2004 Melodifestivalen 2004 20 March 4.105 SVT1
2005 Melodifestivalen 2005 12 March 4.055 SVT1
2006 Melodifestivalen 2006 18 March 4.240 SVT1
2007 Melodifestivalen 2007 10 March 3.975 SVT1
2008 Melodifestivalen 2008 15 March 4.045 SVT1
2009 Melodifestivalen 2009 14 March 3.59 SVT1
2010 Melodifestivalen 2010 13 March 3.87 SVT1
2011 Melodifestivalen 2011 12 March 3.67 SVT1
2012 Melodifestivalen 2012 10 March 4.11 SVT1
2013 Melodifestivalen 2013 9 March 4.15 SVT1
2014 Kalle Anka och hans vänner 24 December 3.705 SVT1
2015 Melodifestivalen 2015 14 March 3.771 SVT1

Most watched sport events per year[edit]

Year Programme Date Number of viewers (millions) Network
2000 UEFA Euro 2000 Final (FRA–ITA) 2 July 2.34 SVT2
2001 2001 World Men's Handball Championship Final (FRA–SWE) 4 February 2.635 TV4
2002 2002 European Men's Handball Championship Final (SWE–GER) 3 February 3.06 TV4
2003 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup Final (GER–SWE) 12 October 3.525 TV4
2004 UEFA Euro 2004 (SWE–DEN) 22 June 3.796 TV4
2005 2005 World Championships in Athletics 7 August 4.055 TV4
2006 2006 Men's Olympic Ice Hockey Final (SWE–FIN) 26 February 3.52 SVT2
2007 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2007 – Women's slalom 16 February 2.23 SVT1
2008 UEFA Euro 2008 (GRE–SWE) 10 June 3.03 TV4
2009 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group 1 (DEN–SWE) 10 October 1.805 Kanal 5
2010 2010 FIFA World Cup Final (NED–ESP) 11 July 2.66 SVT1
2011 2011 IIHF World Championship Final (SWE–FIN) 15 May 2.035 TV3
2012 UEFA Euro 2012 (UKR–SWE) 11 June 2.94 SVT1
2013 2013 IIHF World Championship Final (SWE–SUI) 19 May 2.915 TV4
2014 2014 FIFA World Cup (GER–ARG) 13 July 2.810 TV4
2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2015 1 May 2.272 SVT1

United Kingdom[edit]

Most watched programmes[edit]

The following is a list of most watched programmes, excluding sporting events and news coverage. The mid-1980s introduction of in-week repeat showings accounts for six of the top ten programmes. On this measure, the 1996 Christmas edition of Only Fools and Horses is the most watched non-repeated, non-documentary programme of all time in the UK. It is the third most watched programme of all time on a single channel after the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony and the wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips in 1973 (see below).

Rank Show Episode Number of viewers
(millions)
Date Network
1 EastEnders Den serves Angie with divorce papers. 30.15[60] 25 December 1986* BBC One
2 EastEnders Michelle Fowler reveals she is pregnant. 28.00[61] 1 January 1987* BBC One
3 Coronation Street Hilda Ogden leaves 26.65[61] 25 December 1987* ITV (Granada)
4 Only Fools and Horses "Time on Our Hands" 24.35[62] 29 December 1996 BBC One
5 EastEnders 24.30[63] 2 January 1992* BBC One
6 Royal Variety Performance 1965 Dame Shirley Bassey, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore 24.20[64] 14 November 1965 ITV (ATV)
7 EastEnders 24.15[65] 7 January 1988* BBC One
8 To the Manor Born Series 1 Finale 23.95[66] 11 November 1979 BBC One
9 Miss World 1967 Peru wins. 23.76[64] 19 November 1967 BBC One
10 EastEnders 23.55[67] 26 December 1985* BBC One
11 Panorama Diana, Princess of Wales 22.78[68] 20 November 1995 BBC One
12 Royal Variety Performance 1975 Bruce Forsyth, Dad's Army & Vera Lynn 22.66[66] 16 November 1975 ITV (ATV)
13 This Is Your Life Lord Mountbatten 22.22[66] 27 April 1977 ITV (Thames)
14 Sunday Night at the London Palladium 21.89[64] 3 December 1967 ITV (ATV)
15 The Benny Hill Show 21.67[66] 24 March 1971 ITV (Thames)
=16 Dallas "Who Done It" – J. R. Ewing's shooter is revealed 21.60[69] 22 November 1980 BBC One
=16 Coronation Street Ken and Deirdre divorce 21.60[63] 8 January 1992 ITV (Granada)
18 Eurovision Song Contest 1973 Anne-Marie David wins for Luxembourg. 21.56[66] 7 April 1973 BBC One
19 Steptoe and Son 21.54[64] 18 February 1964 BBC TV
=20 The Mike Yarwood Show Mike Yarwood Christmas Show 21.40[66] 25 December 1977 BBC One
=20 Coronation Street Bet Lynch becomes landlady of the Rovers Return Inn. 21.40[67] 2 January 1985 ITV (Granada)
22 Coronation Street Rita Tanner's first appearance. 21.36[64] 2 December 1964 ITV (Granada)
23 Only Fools and Horses "If They Could See Us Now" 21.35[70] 25 December 2001 BBC One

* denotes aggregated figure with repeat showing.

Most watched films[edit]

These are the most watched films by total number of viewers[71] (dates are when the films were broadcast, not necessarily when they were produced).

Rank Title Number of viewers
(millions)
Date Network
1 Live and Let Die 23.50 20 January 1980 ITV
2 Jaws 23.25 8 October 1981 ITV
3 The Spy Who Loved Me 22.90 28 March 1982 ITV
4 Diamonds Are Forever 22.15 15 March 1981 ITV
5 Crocodile Dundee 21.75 25 December 1989 BBC1

Most watched special events[edit]

The majority of special events attracting large audiences are often carried on more than one channel. The most watched programme of all time on a single channel is the 1973 wedding ceremony of The Princess Anne, shown only on BBC1.

Rank Event Number of viewers
(millions)
Date Network
1 1966 FIFA World Cup Final 32.30[64] 30 July 1966 BBC One/ITV
2 Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales 32.10[63] 6 September 1997 BBC One/ITV
3 Royal Family (documentary) 30.69[64] 21 June 1969 and 28 June 1969 BBC One/ITV
4 Apollo 13 splashdown 28.60[66] 17 April 1970 BBC One/ITV
5 1970 FA Cup Final replay 28.49[66] 29 April 1970 BBC One/ITV
6 Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer 28.40[69] 29 July 1981 BBC One/ITV
7 Wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips 27.60[66] 14 November 1973 BBC One
8 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony 24.46[72] 12 August 2012 BBC One
9 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony 24.24[73] 27 July 2012 BBC One
10 JFK Assassination – News Broadcast 24.15[64] 22 November 1963 BBC TV/ITV

Note: The Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton (29 April 2011) received a total audience peak of 26 million viewers, but this is a combined figure aggregated from the ten different channels that broadcast the ceremony. The highest figures of these were 13.59 million on BBC1, with an extra 4.02 million watching on ITV.[74]

Most watched programmes per year[edit]

Year Programme Date Number of viewers
(millions)
Network
1981 Film: Jaws 8 October 1981 23.30[75] ITV
1982 Film: The Spy Who Loved Me 28 March 1982 22.90[76] ITV
1983 Coronation Street 23 February 1983 18.45[77] ITV
1984 Royal Variety Performance 1984 25 November 1984 20.55[78] BBC One
1985 EastEnders 26 December 1985 23.55[67] BBC One
1986 EastEnders 25 December 1986 30.15[60] BBC One
1987 EastEnders 1 January 1987 28.00[61] BBC One
1988 EastEnders 7 January 1988 24.15[65] BBC One
1989 Film: "Crocodile" Dundee 25 December 1989 21.77[79] BBC One
1990 Neighbours (Episode 837) 26 February 1990 21.16[80] BBC One
1991 Coronation Street 25 November 1991 20.45[81] ITV
1992 Coronation Street 22 January 1992 20.45[82] ITV
1993 Coronation Street 22 March 1993 20.73[83] ITV
1994 Torvill and Dean – Olympic Ice Dance Championship 21 February 1994 23.95[84] BBC One
1995 Panorama Special: Princess Diana 20 November 1995 22.78[68] BBC One
1996 Only Fools and Horses 29 December 1996 24.35[62] BBC One
1997 Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales 6 September 1997 19.29[85] BBC One
1998 1998 FIFA World Cup: England v Argentina 30 June 1998 23.78[86] ITV
1999 Coronation Street 7 March 1999 19.82[87] ITV
2000 Coronation Street 3 January 2000 18.96[88] ITV
2001 Only Fools and Horses 25 December 2001 21.35[70] BBC One
2002 Only Fools and Horses 25 December 2002 17.40[89] BBC One
2003 Coronation Street 24 February 2003 19.43[90] ITV
2004 UEFA Euro 2004: England v Portugal 24 June 2004 20.66[91] BBC One
2005 Coronation Street 21 February 2005 14.36[92] ITV
2006 2006 FIFA World Cup: England v Sweden 20 June 2006 18.46[93] ITV
2007 EastEnders 25 December 2007 14.38[94] BBC One
2008 Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death 25 December 2008 16.15[95] BBC One
2009 Britain's Got Talent Final Result 30 May 2009 18.29[96] ITV
2010 The X Factor Results 12 December 2010 16.55[97] ITV
2011 The Royal Wedding 29 April 2011 13.59[98] BBC One1
2012 2012 Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony 12 August 2012 24.46[99] BBC One
2013 New Year's Eve Fireworks 31 December 2013 13.53[100] BBC One
2014 2014 FIFA World Cup Final: Germany v Argentina 13 July 2014 14.96[101] BBC One2
2015 The Great British Bake Off 7 October 2015 15.05[102] BBC One
2016 The Great British Bake Off 14 September 2016 13.88[103] BBC One
Notes
  • ^1 – The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton (29 April 2011) "attracted a consolidated average audience of 26.0 [million] viewers across the ceremony from 11:00am to 12:10pm. This is an aggregated audience across 10 BARB reported channels that followed the events live."[104] The highest figures for individual channels of these were 13.59 million on BBC One, followed by 4.02 million watching on ITV.
  • ^2 – The 2014 FIFA World Cup Final was broadcast by both BBC One and ITV. The highest figures were 14.96 million on BBC One, followed by 2.34 million on ITV.
  • ^3 – The UEFA Euro 2016 Final was broadcast by both BBC One and ITV. The highest of these figures were 12.27 million on BBC One.

United States[edit]

NBC's live telecast of Super Bowl XLIX currently stands as the country's most watched single television broadcast, with 114.4 million viewers.[105] During this broadcast, the halftime show featuring Katy Perry was watched by 118.5 million viewers.[105] The broadcast also reached a current all-time high of 168-million viewership mark in several portions of the conclusion of 1 February 2015 Super Bowl telecast. The previous live telecast of Super Bowl XLV in February 2011 helped Fox become the first ever television network in the United States to be watched by at least 100 million American viewers by average for a single primetime night of programming.[106] Moreover, Super Bowl telecasts account for 23 of the most watched television broadcasts based on overall viewership in U.S. television history.[107] Additionally, the National Football League (or NFL) regular season is watched since 2012 by at least 200 million individuals in the United States, accounting for the largest consistent annual nationwide viewership for any television event in U.S. television history (representing almost 70% of the American households, more than 80% of the total U.S. television viewers, and more than 60% of the maintained 2010s U.S. population of 320 million).

Most watched series finales – Top 15 list[edit]

This table lists the 15 most watched U.S. television series finales in history, effective as of the current season. Take note, however, that all the Nielsen ratings for U.S. television series finales broadcast starting 2003 were adjusted from the 2007-2008 season to incorporate both the standard live primetime and time-shifted or delayed DVR viewership figures (based on the telecast's final 5-minute standard run) in the United States only (from the dates of their original series finale runs).[108]

The finale is not necessarily a show's most watched episode. Notable examples include the CBS' Dallas, viewed by about 90 million American viewers after the network's 21 November 1980 primetime telecast of the resolution episode[109][110] of the internationally known 'Who Shot J.R.' cliffhanger[111] (the second highest rated single television broadcast in U.S. history, watched by 53.3% of American households and more than 76% of the total U.S. television viewers for that year), almost thrice as many viewers as there were for the 1991 series finale (33.3 million viewers).

The highest-rated single television broadcast in U.S. history is the 150-minute-long final episode[112] of M*A*S*H*[113] (which remains the sole regular U.S. primetime television series to be watched by at least 100 million viewers in the United States alone for an episode), transmitted on primetime by CBS on 28 February 1983, viewed at a peak conclusion by 125 million American viewers (or 60.2% of American households and at least 77% of the total U.S. television viewers). When TV miniseries are taken into the Nielsen tallies, ABC's Roots posted the second most watched series finale in U.S. history, watched on 30 January 1977, by 100 million viewers (51.1% of American households and more than 71% of the total U.S. television viewers that year), but attracted the largest viewership for any type of primetime television series in U.S. history – a record currently standing at between 130 million and 140 million[114][115] American viewers for its 8-part installment in January 1977 (peaking up to 80% of the total U.S. television viewers in 1977).

CBS' Everybody Loves Raymond bumped the syndicated series Star Trek: The Next Generation out of the Top 15 Nielsen tally of the all-time most watched U.S. TV series finales in May 2005, but the latter remains the most watched of all syndicated programs in U.S. history. NBC aired 2 of the top 5 all-time most watched overall U.S. television series finales to date (both of sitcom genre, behind the 1983 M.A.S.H. and 1977 Roots respective final episodes, and also sandwiching the peak rating record of the August 1967, final broadcast of ABC's The Fugitive) – the 21 May 1993, broadcast of the series finale[116][117] of Cheers (the most watched overall U.S. television series finale in the advent of cable television starting the mid-1990s, covering almost 93.5 million American viewers and 46% of all American households that year), and the primetime telecast of the final episode[118] of Seinfeld on 14 May 1998. Take note that the gap of the viewerships between these and each of the series finales (on 6 and 13 May 2004) of fellow NBC sitcoms Friends and Frasier (which became part of the long highly regarded 'Must See TV'[119] tagline for Thursday primetime schedule of NBC from 1982 to 2004) fall between 20 million and 30 million viewers.

Rank Title Episode Number of viewers
(in millions)
Household
share
Audience
share
Date Network
1 M*A*S*H "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" 125.0[a][112] 60.2% 77% 28 Feb 1983 CBS
2 Roots (miniseries) "Part VIII" 100.0[112] 51.1% 71% 30 Jan 1977 ABC
3 Cheers "One for the Road" 93.5[a][123] 45.5% 64%[121] 20 May 1993 NBC
4 The Fugitive "The Judgment" Part 2 78.0[citation needed] 45.9% 72% 29 Aug 1967 ABC
5 Seinfeld "The Finale" 76.3[123] 41.3% 58% 14 May 1998 NBC
6 Friends "The Last One" 52.5[124] 40.2% 62% 6 May 2004 NBC
7 Magnum, P.I. "Resolutions" 50.7 32.0% 48% 8 May 1988 CBS
8 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Finale of Carson-hosting era 50.0[123] 30.0% 46% 22 May 1992 NBC
9 The Cosby Show "And So We Commence" 44.4[123] 28.0% 45% 30 April 1992
10 Frasier "Goodnight, Seattle" 42.7 [1] [2] 25.8% 40% 13 May 2004 NBC
11 All in the Family "Too Good Edith" 40.2[123][125] 26.6% 43% 8 April 1979 CBS
12 Everybody Loves Raymond "The Finale" 38.3[126] 25.7% 36% 16 May 2005 CBS
13 Family Ties "Alex Doesn't Live Here Anymore" 36.3 20.8% 35% 14 May 1989 NBC
14 Home Improvement "The Long and Winding Road" 35.5[127] 21.6%[128] 43%[127] 25 May 1999 ABC
15 Dallas "Conundrum" 33.3 22.0% 38% 3 May 1991 CBS
  1. ^ a b The number of viewers for M*A*S*H (105.9 million) and Cheers (84.4 million) are the numbers most commonly reported. M*A*S*H has also been reported at 121.6 million viewers and Cheers has been reported at 93.5 million viewers.[120][121] For Cheers and M*A*S*H, 93.5 million and 121.6 million represent the total audience who watched at least six minutes and the 84.4 million and 105.9 million represent the viewers who watched the average minute. As previously mentioned, 125 million represents the total audience that tuned into the last 5 minutes of the series finale of M.A.S.H. during its primetime telecast.[122] Regular episodes of M*A*S*H were thirty minutes long, but the final episode aired as a television movie and was two hours and thirty minutes long.

Most watched series episode of the decade[edit]

This table lists the most watched overall television episode for every decade in the United States, as tallied by the Nielsen Media Research since the 1950–1951 television season. Take note that the audience share category of the Nielsen ratings only began in the 1959–1960 television season, and that all the Nielsen ratings for U.S. telecasts starting 2003 were adjusted from the 2007-2008 season to incorporate both the standard live primetime and time-shifted or delayed DVR viewership figures (based on the telecast's final 5-minute standard run) in the United States only (from the dates of their original series finale runs)..

Decade Title Episode Viewers
(in millions)
Household
share
Audience
share
Date Network
1950s The Ed Sullivan Show Special guesting of Elvis Presley 60.0 82.6% 71% 9 Sep 1956 CBS
1960s The Fugitive "The Judgment"
Part 2
78.0 45.9% 72% 29 Aug 1967 ABC
1970s Roots (miniseries) "Part VIII" 100.0[112] 51.1% 71% 30 Jan 1977 ABC
1980s M*A*S*H "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" 125.0[112] 60.2% 77% 28 Feb 1983 CBS
1990s Cheers "One for the Road" 93.5[123] 45.5% 64%[121] 20 May 1993 NBC
2000s Friends "The Last One" 52.5[124] 40.2% 62% 6 May 2004 NBC
2010s Undercover Boss "Waste Management, Inc" (Series Premiere) 42.3 29.4% 36% 7 Feb 2010 CBS

Most watched series per year[edit]

This table lists all the TV shows with the highest average household Nielsen rating for each television season in the United States.[129][130][131][132][133] Take note, however, that the final annual-high Nielsen household share ratings starting the 2007–08 season incorporate both the standard live primetime and time-shifted or delayed DVR viewership figures in the United States only.[108]

Fox's American Idol holds the record for most consecutive (and overall total) seasons at No. 1, with eight. It is also the first ever television series of reality singing competition genre (and Fox's first ever television program) to take the top position in the Nielsen annual primetime television ratings. Take note, however, that American Idol usually airs two live episodes a week for its finals stage (Tuesdays and Wednesdays from its inception in 2002 to 2010, and Wednesdays and Thursdays between 2011 and 2014); for the 2003–2004 season, only the Tuesday (or competition stage) show was ranked No. 1, and for that television season, American Idol as a whole placed second (potentially giving the top spot to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation from CBS, if the ratings of American Idol for that year had been summarized as only 1 day-per-week broadcast format). From 2005 to 2011, the whole show was No. 1 for only seven consecutive (and overall total) seasons, but still ranked No.1 overall in the 18–49 demographic for eight consecutive seasons.[134]

CBS's All in the Family and NBC's The Cosby Show share second place, ranked No. 1 overall each for 5 consecutive (and overall total) seasons, from 1972 to 1976, and 1986 to 1990, respectively. If the total number of seasons of Nielsen No.1-leads are counted, CBS's 60 Minutes also share second place, and to date is the only primetime program to lead the Nielsen primetime ratings in 3 separate decades – 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s, and together with NBC's ER and Friends, remained the latest primetime programs in the United States of television news, medical drama and sitcom genres to rank first in the Nielsen annual ratings, back in 1994, 1999 and 2002, respectively. NBC's Seinfeld remained as the latest television series to end its run leading the annual Nielsen television ratings, back in 1998. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? remains the latest primetime program from ABC to lead the Nielsen annual primetime television ratings, back in 2000. Meanwhile, NBC's Sunday Night Football debuted in 2012 as the country's first ever regular primetime sports program to rank No.1 in the Nielsen annual primetime television ratings.

Record-setting U.S. television programs as listed below are in bold text.
     The program with the all-time highest annual Nielsen average rating
     Two or more programs tie for highest average Nielsen rating in the same season
     The program with the all-time longest consecutive season winning streak in Nielsen ratings

Season Program Network Rating
1950–1951 Texaco Star Theater NBC 61.6
1951–1952 Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts CBS 53.8
1952–1953 I Love Lucy 67.3
1953–1954 58.8
1954–1955 49.3
1955–1956 The $64,000 Question 47.5
1956–1957 I Love Lucy 43.7
1957–1958 Gunsmoke 43.1
1958–1959 39.6
1959–1960 40.3
1960–1961 37.3
1961–1962 Wagon Train NBC 32.1
1962–1963 The Beverly Hillbillies CBS 36.0
1963–1964 39.1
1964–1965 Bonanza NBC 36.3
1965–1966 31.8
1966–1967 29.1
1967–1968 The Andy Griffith Show CBS 27.6
1968–1969 Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In NBC 31.8
1969–1970 26.3
1970–1971 Marcus Welby, M.D. ABC 29.6
1971–1972 All in the Family CBS 34.0
1972–1973 33.3
1973–1974 31.2
1974–1975 30.2
1975–1976 30.1
1976–1977 Happy Days ABC 31.5
1977–1978 Laverne & Shirley 31.6
1978–1979 30.5
1979–1980 60 Minutes CBS 28.4
1980–1981 Dallas 34.5
1981–1982 28.4
1982–1983 60 Minutes 25.5
1983–1984 Dallas 25.7
1984–1985 Dynasty ABC 25.0
1985–1986 The Cosby Show NBC 33.7
1986–1987 34.9
1987–1988 27.8
1988–1989 25.6
1989–1990 Roseanne ABC 23.1
The Cosby Show NBC
1990–1991 Cheers 21.3
1991–1992 60 Minutes CBS 21.9
1992–1993
1993–1994 20.9
1994–1995 Seinfeld NBC 20.6
1995–1996 ER 22.0
1996–1997 21.2
1997–1998 Seinfeld 21.7
1998–1999 ER 17.8
1999–2000 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? – Tuesdays ABC 18.6
2000–2001 Survivor: The Australian Outback CBS 17.4
2001–2002 Friends NBC 15.3
2002–2003 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS 16.3
2003–2004 American Idol – Tuesdays (Competition) Fox 14.2
2004–2005 American Idol – Overall Season 15.2
2005–2006 17.6
2006–2007 17.3
2007–2008 16.9
2008–2009 15.7
2009–2010 13.9
2010–2011 14.8
2011–2012 NBC Sunday Night Football NBC 13.1
2012–2013 NCIS CBS 12.7
2013–2014 NBC Sunday Night Football NBC 12.8
2014–2015 12.9
2015–2016 13.3

Longest dominating series of the decade[edit]

This table lists the primetime television series with the most number of seasons of No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings for every decade in the United States, as tallied by the Nielsen Media Research since the 1950–1951 television season. Only the Nielsen household share will be shown in the following table.

The U.S. television program with the longest ever streak at No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings is written in bold text.

Decade Series Peak season
household share
Debut season at
Nielsen No. 1
End season at
Nielsen No. 1
Seasons
at No. 1
Network
1950s I Love Lucy 67.3 (1952–1953) 1952–1953 1956–1957 4 CBS
1960s Gunsmoke 43.1 (1957–1958) 1957–1958 1960–1961
1970s All in the Family 34.0 (1971–1972) 1971–1972 1975–1976 5
1980s The Cosby Show 34.9 (1986–1987) 1985–1986 1989–1990 NBC
1990s 60 Minutes 28.4 (1979–1980) 1979–1980 1993–1994 CBS
2000s American Idol 17.6 (2005–2006) 2003–2004 2010–2011 8 Fox
2010s NBC Sunday Night Football 13.3 (2015–2016) 2011-2012 2015-2016 4 NBC

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