Here Are Broadcast’s Top 10 Entertainment Shows So Far This Fall

Big linear debuts for 3 new series, steep drops for some returning ones

The Good Doctor, This Is Us and Young Sheldon were the big hits. ABC, NBC, CBS
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Almost one month into the 2017-18 TV season, three new shows have staked out their claim as some of fall’s most-watched programs. But broadcast viewing overall is down double-digits across the 18-49 demo, as viewers continue to drift from watching linear TV.

According to Nielsen’s “most current” ratings, broadcast’s top entertainment series in the demo this fall is CBS’ Young Sheldon, with a 5.5 rating and a demo audience of 7.0 million. That number is skewed by the fact that CBS has only aired a single episode of the show, immediately after The Big Bang Theory’s season finale last month, and won’t be airing episode 2 until Nov. 2, after the conclusion of its Thursday Night Football package.

Two other new series cracked the top 10 list of entertainment shows this season: ABC’s The Good Doctor, which is No. 4 with a 3.9 rating and NBC’s Will & Grace revival (No. 5 with a 3.7 rating). All three series have already received full-season orders, while Will & Grace has been picked up for another season.

Among broadcast’s most-watched shows, This Is Us is the only returning series to add viewers year-over-year, jumping 15 percent to a 5.2 rating, and 6.7 million demo viewers. It is in the No. 2 slot for now, but could overtake Young Sheldon if that show returns to a smaller audience in November.

The rest of the Top 10 list is made up of returning shows, but alarmingly, all of them were down double-digits year-over-year except for Grey’s Anatomy, which was off just 3 percent (at No. 6 with a 3.6 rating). The Big Bang Theory is No. 3 with a 4.8 (down 11 percent), The Voice’s Monday night broadcast is seventh with a 3.2 (a 16 percent decrease), Modern Family is eighth with 3.0 (a 21 percent drop), Empire is No. 9 with a 3.0 (off a whopping 42 percent year-over-year) and The Voice’s Tuesday edition rounds out the list with a 3.0 rating (down 19 percent).

The broadcast networks are also seeing double-digit year-over-over demo declines. NBC is solidly in the lead this season with a 2.2, which is off 12 percent from last year’s 2.5. CBS is second with 1.9, a 14 percent drop from last fall’s 2.2. ABC is No. 3 with 1.4, off 18 percent from 1.7 a year ago, and Fox is fourth with 1.3 (down 13 percent from last year’s 1.5). The CW, which doesn’t premiere its new and returning shows until October, was flat with a 0.3.

Anticipating this continued linear slide, all of the broadcast network presidents insisted during the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour that their networks are stronger than ever, noting that many of their shows double their audiences in delayed viewing on several platforms. However, their ad sales teams are not yet able to fully monetize those viewers.

Going from the most-watched to the least-watched broadcast entertainment shows in the demo, Great News has NBC’s lowest demo rating, averaging a 1.3. Madam Secretary is bringing up the rear on CBS with a 0.9 rating. The Exorcist is averaging a 0.6 rating for Fox, while The Toy Box is pulling just a 0.4 on ABC. Valor—one of three military-themed series this fall—is the lowest-performing CW show so far, with a 0.3 rating.

Here are the Top 10 broadcast entertainment shows in the 18-49 demo for the first month of the 2017-18 TV season, along with the rating and number of viewers in the demo:

  1. Young Sheldon, CBS (5.5, 7.0 million)
  2. This Is Us, NBC (5.2, 6.7 million)
  3. The Big Bang Theory, CBS (4.8, 6.16 million)
  4. The Good Doctor, ABC (3.9, 5.0 million)
  5. Will & Grace, NBC (3.7, 4.8 million)
  6. Grey’s Anatomy, ABC (3.6, 4.6 million)
  7. The Voice Monday, NBC (3.2, 4.07 million)
  8. Modern Family, ABC (3.0, 3.9 million)
  9. Empire, Fox (3.0, 3.85 million)
  10. The Voice Tuesday, NBC (3.0, 3.83 million)

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.