The 2019 TV Hot List: The Year’s Biggest and Buzziest Shows, Networks and People

Plus, Executive of the Year Cindy Holland and Creator of the Year Chuck Lorre

A collage of Adweek Hot List 2019 winners including Amazon's Fleabag, Hulu and A&E's Live PD
Adweek presents the Hottest Comedy, Hottest Network for Comedy, Hottest TV Franchise and more winners.
Sources: Amazon, Hulu, Live PD

The TV industry is in the midst of a massive upheaval—one that will come to a head over the next year as a number of major new streaming services prepare to enter the fray—which makes it tougher than ever for shows and networks to connect with viewers. Yet this year’s TV Hot List winners have managed to do just that. This list spotlights all of the ways the industry has shifted, and how Netflix (and Adweek’s TV Executive of the Year, Cindy Holland, as well as Game Changer of the Year Ava DuVernay, who made the riveting When They See Us for the service) is increasingly at the front of it. At the same time, broadcast still continues to thrive, thanks to people like Adweek’s TV Creator of the Year, Chuck Lorre, who has three shows on CBS, and whose The Big Bang Theory wrapped its 12-season run in May as TV’s most-watched comedy. From Stranger Things to Game of Thrones to Stephen Colbert, this year’s TV Hot List honors the year’s biggest and buzziest shows, networks and people.

TV Executive of the Year 
Cindy Holland

Cindy Holland
Cindy Holland, Adweek's TV Executive of the Year, joined Netflix 17 years ago.
Courtesy of Netflix

For Netflix’s Cindy Holland, overseeing original programming at the biggest streaming service in the world wasn’t always part of the plan. Holland, who joined Netflix 17 years ago and is now vp of original content, has seen Netflix through several different phases, arriving when the company was a DVD-by-mail business and helping it evolve into a streaming-centric giant in its ongoing quest to build a massive customer base. “The only thing that wasn’t in our core initial strategy was that we would be in the business of producing original content ourselves,” says Holland.

That all changed, of course, when the company began investing in original shows like Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards, both of which premiered in 2013. Six years later, the company is an entertainment empire on par with established Hollywood brands. Read More …

TV Creator of the Year
Chuck Lorre

Chuck Lorre
Chuck Lorre, our TV Creator of the Year, is currently overseeing four TV shows.
Patrick Eccelsine/2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Don’t let his impressive resume fool you. Yes, Chuck Lorre has created or co-created hit sitcoms like Grace Under Fire, Dharma and Greg, Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory during the past two decades, but just because the writer-producer gets a show on the air doesn’t mean he has cracked the code of what makes that series tick. Read More …

Show of the Year
Game of Thrones (HBO)

Courtesy of HBO

Everyone wanted to find out who would win the battle for the Iron Throne: 45.9 million viewers tuned in to the HBO drama’s eighth and final season this past May, making Game of Thrones the most-watched series by far in HBO history. All year long, the show’s reach was inescapable, even for those who didn’t watch: More than 100 brands collaborated with Game of Thrones, including AT&T, Mountain Dew, Urban Decay and, most memorably, Bud Light, in a Super Bowl spot that featured one of the show’s dragons incinerating the Bud Knight. Last month’s Emmys served as the final curtain call for the show, which won 12 awards, including outstanding drama series. —J.L.

Hottest Drama
This Is Us (NBC)

Courtesy of NBC

While most breakout dramas tend to fade after a season or two (looking at you, Empire and The Good Doctor), This Is Us continues to retain its relevancy and interest among viewers as it heads into Season 4. It was the No. 1 drama in the 18-49 demo last season, so it was no surprise when NBC gave the series a massive three-season renewal just in time for NBCUniversal’s upfront event in May. And given the time-jumping show’s continued ability to throw new curveballs at its audience, This Is Us momentum shows no signs of waning. —Sara Jerde

Hottest Comedy
Fleabag (Amazon)

Courtesy of Amazon Studios

This story first appeared in the Oct. 21, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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