Midseason ratings: The top 50 shows so far!

tv-show-RatingsImage Credit: Michael Becker/Fox; Bob D'Amico/ABC; Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images; Greg Gayne/CBSThe 2010-11 season is more than half over, so it’s time to check in to see what you people are watching (or avoiding like the plague).

The news isn’t that great for the Big Four: From the Sept. 20 start of the season through Feb. 13, every net except the CW is down among adults 18-49, the most important demographic to advertisers. CBS is posting the biggest drop at 12 percent, followed by ABC (11 percent), Fox (8 percent) and NBC (4 percent). The CW, in comparison, is up 11 percent (though that’s not exactly the sand box that the teen-loving network likes to play in). If it’s any consolation, the collective adult 18-49 rating for all of TV — and we mean every last network — is down 2 percent versus a year ago, so its not just the broadcast nets that may be taking a hit. 

Viewership has also dropped among all the nets except CW (which is up from 2.0 million to 2.1 million), but the losses are only in the single digits. What matters most is the performance in that super important adult demo — and for that reason, we’re only focusing on the Top 50 shows among folks 18-49. Each 18-49 ratings point represents 1.3 million viewers.

We’re not suggesting you start those renewal prayers if your favorite show didn’t make the cut below (see the bottom 50 here). Shows like Fringe, for instance, fall below the Top 50, but no one at Fox is hinting to a cancellation — yet. (For more about what’s apt to stick around and what’ll likely earn a pink slip, check out our TV survival scorecard here).

  1. American Idol Wednesday (Fox, 9.9 rating/26 share)
  2. American Idol Thursday (Fox, 8.2/22)
  3. NFL Sunday Football (NBC, 8.0/20)
  4. NFL Sunday Pre-kick (NBC, 5.6/15)
  5. Modern Family (ABC, 5.0/13)
  6. Overtime (Fox, 4.6/14)
  7. Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, 4.6/12)
  8. Two and A Half Men (CBS, 4.6/11)
  9. Dancing with the Stars (ABC, 4.6/11)
  10. The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 4.5/13)
  11. NCIS (CBS, 4.3/12)
  12. Survivor: Nicaragua (CBS, 4.3/12)
  13. The Office (NBC, 4.1/10)
  14. Family Guy (Fox, 4.1/10)
  15. Desperate Housewives (ABC, 4.1/9)
  16. Glee (excludes special post-Super Bowl episode, Fox, 4.0/11)
  17. Dancing with the Stars results (ABC, 4.0/10)
  18. Criminal Minds (CBS, 3.9/10)
  19. House (Fox, 3.9/10)
  20. Football Night in America (NBC, 3.8/11)
  21. The Amazing Race 17 (CBS, 3.8/9)
  22. NCIS: LA (CBS, 3.8/10)
  23. The Simpsons (Fox, 3.8/10)
  24. How I Met Your Mother (CBS, 3.7/10)
  25. Mr. Sunshine (ABC, 3.7/10)
  26. Mike & Molly (CBS, 3.7/9)
  27. Undercover Boss (CBS, 3.7/9)
  28. The Biggest Loser (NBC, 3.4/9)
  29. Hawaii 5-0 (CBS, 3.4/9)
  30. Cougar Town (ABC, 3.4/9)
  31. CSI (CBS, 3.3/8)
  32. Hell’s Kitchen (Fox, 3.3/8)
  33. The Mentalist (CBS, 3.2/9)
  34. Wipeout Thursday (ABC, 3.2/9)
  35. Bones (Fox, 3.2/9)
  36. Rules of Engagement (CBS, 3.2/8)
  37. The Bachelor (ABC, 3.2/8)
  38. The Biggest Loser 10 (NBC, 3.1/8)
  39. The Event (NBC, 3.1/7)
  40. $#*! My Dad Says (CBS, 3.1/9)
  41. Private Practice (ABC, 3.1/8)
  42. The Cleveland Show (Fox, 3.1/7)
  43. CSI: Miami (CBS, 3.0/8)
  44. Parks & Recreation (NBC, 3.0/8)
  45. Bob’s Burgers (Fox, 3.0/7)
  46. Hell’s Kitchen Wednesday (Fox, 3.0/9)
  47. Raising Hope (Fox, 3.0/8)
  48. Parenthood (NBC, 2.8/8)
  49. Law & Order: SVU (NBC, 2.8/7)
  50. Brothers & Sisters (ABC, 2.8/7)

NEXT: The Bottom 50 Shows So Far….

Comments (214 total) Add your comment
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  • ES

    omg fringe isnt even on this list. it is in trouble! :(

    • LOL

      America loves crap.

      • RJM

        That’s exactly what I said!
        So happy Cougar Town made the cut! But how is 30 Rock not on there? I didn’t think more people watched the dwindling Office than 30 Rock.

      • stu

        18-49 yr olds luv crap.
        Law & Order is so far down. Show is old but still does great stories.
        Where is Outsource? :=

      • DNA

        Outsourced must be in the “I’m American and didn’t realize these jokes are racist” category.

      • Doug

        America is nothing more than white trash.. are you just figuring that out..

      • Chaz

        Yes Doug, look in the mirror.

      • Davie

        America loves crappy TV because now days, white/black trash America rules. We have an aging population of boomer’s instilling the same lower education is better on their kids thereby having no aspirations other than to drink, smoke, and do drugs. TV is their god that enhances their pathetic lives. Meanwhile, their kids are having sex, watching porn, and quitting high school. The boomer/hippies have ruined The United States.

      • Charlie

        Well, Davie, I am an aging boomer with two PhD’s and all of my 4 children are college graduates. Other than the occasional drink, I am a sober person who watches very little TV because there is nothing worth watching. I watch when I’m bored, which is almost never, and it is either TCM or netflix. And here’s a news flash for those of you obsessed with Neilsen: that was old technology used when folks watched over the airwaves. Nowadays, cable and satellite providers know exactly what and when each of you are watching, making these numbers far more accurate than the old days. I’m retired from the industry, and know that’s how it works.

      • Kelly


      • jen

        Charlie –

        And yet. Despite your apparent awesomeness, here you are with the rest of us peons commenting on TV on the internet.

    • Cheery

      Did you even read what she said in the article??

    • pickle t1ts

      The TV ratings system is broken. It only seems to take into account all the lazy slobs who are either too old/incompetent or too poor to use/own computers. I don’t watch TV on TV any more. I’m not a lonely 35-48 single woman,52-70 useless baby boomer or below the poverty line ghetto/trailer trash honky.

      • Susan

        But you are a very rude and bitter prejudiced individual with a nasty mouth!

      • pickle t1ts

        @susan Sooo… You’re… Lonely single old lady who lives in a trailer park?

      • @pickled brains

        You’re apparently one of those losers who live and hide behind their computers spewing insults at people with real lives.

      • Will S

        I’m 20, go to college, and I have a job, yet I’m able to watch TV perfectly fine. So I don’t fit in that category.

      • pickle t1ts

        @will s Sorry will…. I forgot to include the morbidly obese and/or socially inept. So your in there too.

      • Dorkus Maximus

        Gee, pickle breasts. Looks like folks just don’t like you.

      • Chris

        @picklebrain… I’m sorry you have no friends, although reading your “post” indicates why. I’m sorry Viagra isn’t working for you either, just making you irritable and bitter. I’d say at least Jesus loves you, but that’s doubtful as well. Save your worthless opinions for the low rent bars you troll.

      • Kimmie

        Dear Pickle boobs,


        Love, “lazy slob”, who is probably too hot for you to get with…lol

      • Ross

        why don’t you include yourself – pathetic friendless loser who hides his pain by posting crap on a computer!

      • Pickles the Drummer

        Pickle, go have a cookie and take a Midol. Jesus you are a whiner.

      • sam

        I am neither…how do you put it? Oh a lazy slob to old/incompetent or to poor to use/own a computer as you can tell as I am writing this. I just prefer to be able to sit more than 2 feet from my screen and cuddle up with the love of my life (and my husband) eating popcorn and watching on a nice large screen….The system isn’t broken it just doesn’t take into account people who have to be attached to their computer 24/7.

      • Davie

        Now that post is funny and accurate.

      • Smurfeater

        Pickles forgot to mention chronic msturbators… coincidence? i think not.

      • jules

        I’m 31, married and hold 2 graduate degrees…and normal, which you clearly are not. Most of us “normal” people still watch tv on tv…whether live or dvr’d. You’re a tool that would rather sit at their computer and watch shows with a crappy picture and occasionally comment on boards to hurl insults at other people. Let me guess…you still live with your mom, don’t you?

      • Nona

        @Pickle.A good bowel movement ought to clear that right up!

      • Crystal

        Hi Karen,Kim was at the Forest Storytelling Festival last year and she was in Victoria for a workshop and pmorrfeance on 4 June. Her next trip to the Island will be to Nanaimo, 26 November. Still waiting to hear more about that workshop.Al

    • Your Queen

      You’re 9 years old (“omg”).
      You’ll get over it.

    • Dan

      i’m so glad $#^! my dad says is on. that show is the bomb!

    • Christian

      Glee has a higher avg than modern family. dont listen to this list!

      • Ben


      • The Truth

        Ya, what source are you using? Great showing of what is wrong with people today, they would even argue against cold hard numbers. It’s getting to the point were people will argue 2+2 does not equal 4.

    • Em

      Neither is Community! I am so upset right now! It better get a season renewal or I swear to God Comcast will get it.

      • The Truth

        How is Comcast to blame exactly? These numbers are from actual real life people watching the shows. A cable provider does not dictate to its subscribers mandatory shows to watch,,, can I get a zieg hail from the Nazis. Instead of blaming a company that has no ability to influence the numbers how about you go out and get others to watch it.

    • Stu

      I tuned in to this article to see what shows are being watched. I have a 4yr old and basically watch her by myself during the week. So, I don’t have time to watch tv. But thank goodness for DvDs. I have purchased all the seasons of Burn Notice and Big Bang Theroy. I think those shows are both very entertainiing. I would like to know what the top 50 DvD sales are. That may be keeping some shows in production. The rest of the list, other than the occasional football game, I haven’t watched it.

    • Stephanie

      My thoughts exactly

    • Captain Obvious

      agreed, however, having done some research, i discovered that nielson families (the viewers these ratings are based on) are 18 – 49 year olds chosen at random by LAND LINE phones. how many 18 to 35 year olds do you know with land line phones? what that means is these television ratings are just a bunch of easy to follow, formulaic CBS shows that 25,000 (out of +150 million televisions) 40 something years olds enjoy – nothing more and CERTAINLY not a realistic assessment of what America is ACTUALLY watching.

      still this list is very discouraging in terms of the overall tastes of WHOEVER is responsible for this garbage.

      • Nancy

        I am 47 so I fall in the category of the demographics. I can tell you I do not watch one show on CBS. I can’t stand CBS, most of the shows I watch are on ABC, Fox and the CW. I don’t care for reality shows, I like scripted much better. I don’t care for the nielson’s ratings, because I don’t believe it shows the true numbers. It a bunch of crap and I can’t wait for someone to come up with a better way to get the real numbers of what people are watching.

  • PaulH

    What needs to be done is to focus on total audience numbers. NCIS has performed spectacularly on Tuesday nights and the main reason why Fox scuttled the idiot karaoke show from that night to a Wednesday/Thursday setup this season. Then it would be in the top 3 or 4.

  • Mike

    Are repeats included in the rankings? Otherwise Glee should be up around 5th.

    • j

      No, reruns are not included in these lists, only first airings.

    • Your Queen

      Way to outgay yourself, Mike.

    • Molly

      Whoever complied this list is INSANE. There is NO WAY Glee has a 4.0! That is the season low, please tell me how a season low can end up being a season average! And why exclude the post-super bowl ratings, Nielsen certainly doesn’t! Lynette clearly favors Modern Family over Glee, because Modern Family’s average is WAY TOO high and Glee’s is conversely WAY TOO low. Both should be meeting in the middle 4’s somewhere. Get a new job you hack writer!

      • Gabe

        Or, these are the current facts as shown by Nielsen, and you are just one big pile of crazy

        P.S. Modern Family >>>>>>>>>> Glee

      • ashley

        i could be misinformed, but i heard glee’s rating went down due to some recent discriminating comments. they do seem to write some boarder line plots..

      • jules

        @Molly…maybe when you graduate from high school, you’ll understand how the ratings system works. This isn’t an opinion piece by the author, this is actual fact. And P.S…Modern Family is a much better show than Glee.

  • Mario

    Where is 30 Rock?? That’s the best show on TV!

    • Kristen

      It usually falls around a 2.0-2.2.
      But I agree about it being the best show on TV.

    • Woot

      It’s already renewed so nothing to worry about

    • Kathy

      Also, where is “The Good Wife”? It is consistently in the top 15 in ratings, but isn’t on this list? WTF??? Are we sure EW has their facts straight?

    • Hoeech

      “Good” and “watched by the masses” do not necessarily go hand in hand.

  • Kristina

    Pretty much every show I watch except a couple are NOT on that list. I wish I was a Neilsen viewer so networks know that I am watching shows that aren’t in the top 50.

    • GimplyGump

      All of Neilson is a joke anyway. They have maybe 1 in 500 homes with a “box” to study what is being seen. Neilson needs to wise up and cut a deal with the cable/satellite companies and get _volunteers_ willing to have their viewing habits monitored. They’d just enter a code set by individual user. If Neilson doesn’t figure it out, a wise Network will.

      • Mitch Logan

        What you call a joke is called math.

      • K.C.

        I agree. I don’t trust the ratings. I actually decided to save 50 bucks a month by canceling by cable. Why pay all that money when you can just watch netflix or hulu? I might be willing to pay the money, if I knew my viewing would help my favorite shows–but I don’t have a box so it doesn’t matter.

      • Nick

        What you call math is actually called statistics and us actually based in probability so there is no certainty or guarantee to any numbers posted by nielsen

      • pickle t1ts

        @mitch logan, neilson boxes only seem to make it into homes where a) old people live. b)the occupant actually won’t mind some creepy bigbrother type technology and c)to some losers who actually want to participate in some dinosaur way of judging which shows are popular. so it isn’t math… it’s participant supplied information that is biased and does not take into account how much media has changed in the last 5 years alone. it is a joke. but here’s some math for you.. my wang + your mouth = good times!

      • RJM

        Seriously! I’ve met a lot of people in my life, and none was ever a Nielson reporter; none even knew one!

      • Will S

        I agree with this. I would love to volunteer myself. :|

      • Your Queen

        You pathetic CUNNNNTTTS don’t think there are mathematical adjustements to make surverys accurate?
        PATHETIC SIMOPLETONS, the lot of you.

  • Jacob

    4.0 is way too low for Glee…I mean the show is almost always above 4.0 in 18-49 and then there’s the mega superbowl episode…and Bones with a 3.2?? Only a countable few number of Bones episodes have been above 3.2 and the Fall Bones episodes were routinely 2.5/2.6. Obviously these ratings are being calculated in some odd fashion that deserves an explanatory asterisk.

    • Hannah

      Yeah and no way Modern Family is at 5.0…I believe a 5.1 or 5.2 is the season high, and most of the episodes score middle to upper 4 ranges. This is most definitely NOT an accurate season to date average.

      • Ella

        Most everybody I know watches Modern Family. Someone made a comment about it on Facebook, and I was shocked at how many people commented because they had watched the episode. The comment pulled me into the show – now I don’t miss it. I even have the app on my iPad and have watched all the episodes that are available. I’ll probably buy the season packs. I watch Glee, but the plots are so predictable – you know the end is going to be a happily ever after ending. The dialogue is nothing special. The music is what makes it unique.

    • bbkenn

      Why isn’t Bones getting a recap anymore and that dreadful Jersey Shore is.

    • Hoeech

      Glee blows. Face it already.

    • jules

      Did you read the article? It clearly states that the Super Bowl episode ratings were not counted. They are an anomaly…most people who watched probably aren’t watching normally. They just didn’t switch the channel.

  • Rack

    Ok people, what’s with the obsession with the 18-49 demo? I’m in my 30’s and guess I would fall in the category, but I don’t watch half the crap on this list. And what is “Overtime” on Fox–I’ve never heard of it.

    • LOL

      Overtime is the NFL post-game show on Sundays. It bleeds into prime time so it shows up in the ratings.

    • Agent Smith

      They are the people whom advertisers believe spend the most money. Still earning, haven’t realized they’ll have to save for retirement or put kids through school like they will in their 50s, or so Madison Ave. believes. Of course, the smart folks plan for that stuff the moment they start working, but there’s certainly empirical evidence that most folks are financially stupid.

      • lisa

        You’re the one who’s stupid. It has nothing to with the 18-49s realizing a need for savings. That’s the age that people need to buy things. Starting a life, starting a household, raising children and making buying choices for an entire family – not just yourself. Before you’re 18 mommy takes care of this. After you’re 49 it’s likely you have the things you need and your kids are buying their own stuff. Yes, Im in the middle of that demographic. I have a moderate income but a healthy pension plan. But I shop for 4 people and they grow out of things. That’s why advertisers target me.

      • Davie

        Why would I save to put my kids through school? My kids are paying their own way just as I did. It builds character and self-respect.

    • Sandra

      I think the demo crap is a way for advertisers to pay networks less for having good rating but bad demos. CBS is really screwed by this but every network has a show or two that’s watched by older people. By somehow convencing everyone that people stop buying new things when they hit 50, they are able to pay the same amount for a show with 20mil viewers as one with 8mill as long as the demos are the same.

      • Roberta

        Hi guys, I was wondering if you can order some Fluorite Pendulums and one of those meidum sized stone hearts in Fluorite? My home recently burnt down and Im trying to start new with my Fluorite collection and Alter. Thank you very much! Blessed Be

  • riley

    I can’t believe the Good Wife isn’t on this list!!!!

    • Cherish

      I was surprised that as well. Should we start worrying about the Good Wife?

    • SDTim

      I was going to say exactly the same thing! I love that show!

  • Mikey M

    People would rather watch American Idol then scripted shows like Fringe.

  • dawn

    not understanding why a show like Mr. Sunshine is on this list. only two eps have aired!

    • JmK

      Totally agree! This list is flawed!!

    • Mitch Logan

      What does the number of episodes that aired have to do with it? Do you know how an average works? They’re not adding up the weekly scores into a grand total for the year.

    • Elizabeth

      I laughed when I got to Mr. Sunshine on the list.

    • Lauren

      The show had a huge dip…….

  • Jay

    This list only proves my points that people have poor taste and low standards, OR that the Nielsen system is flawed. Sadly, I’m leaning towards the former.

    • LOL

      Mostly the former, but some of the latter, too.

    • Jakers

      Or that this list is flawed, which it is!

      • Your Queen

        Jakers = Jackass

  • Liva

    Hell’s Kitchen over Fringe. Gack.

  • Avery

    I follow the 18-49 ratings pretty carefully. If you’re saying that these are season averages, I really think that A LOT of them are wrong! Many of them are too high. Perhaps you could repost an accurate list?

    • Mike

      Yeah, this list is off. Modern Family’s season high is a 5.1, yet it’s average is a 5.0? Meanwhile Glee’s season low is a 4.0 which is it’s average despite being over 5 many times.

  • Jakers

    Google tvbythenumbers if you want an accurate list, this one is not even close to correct! The Event in the top 50 at 3.1?? Lolololol! The premiere episode of the Event was the only one of its 10 episodes so far to even crack 3.0, do the math on that one and tell me how it averages out to a 3.1. Especially when you keep in mind that its last few episodes aired to a 1.9…

    • D.M.

      Same thing goes for Parenthood. It premiered to a 2.7 this season and has been in the mid to low 2.0’s and occasionally down to a 1.9, so how can its average by 2.8?

      • D.M.

        Correcting typo: How can its average be 2.8?

      • MB

        This is especially odd since “The Good Wife” beats “Parentwood” nearly every week and yet is in the bottom 50.

    • jules

      tvbythenumbers.com reports weekly ratings. It does not do an average of the year so far…which is what this article is referring to. Modern Family’s ratings have consistently been right around 5.0 – 5.1 which is why it’s averaged to the number reported. And the reason the Good Wife isn’t included is because this is an 18 – 49 demo. Most of TGW’s viewers are probably falling outside of that demo.

  • Molly

    Who created this list?! Practically NONE of those ratings are even CLOSE to being correct. I thought EW was like a reliable news source for the entertainment industry…apparently not hahahaha

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