The Top 100 Primetime Telecasts of 2018

Live sports, and in particular NFL broadcasts, dominate the rankings, as they usually do.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The NFL rebounded some in 2018 from its ratings declines of the prior two years, and that's reflected in the list of top primetime telecasts for the year. 

NFL telecasts make up 33 of the 100 most-watched primetime programs of 2018 and 48 of the top 100 shows among adults 18-49 — including 31 of the top 50. Sports broadcasts (including the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics) taken as a whole represent more than two-thirds of the top 100 in viewers and more than 80 percent of the top 100 in the 18-49 demo.

That's just primetime, too. If the lists below included all dayparts, even more NFL broadcasts would crowd out some of the scripted series near the bottom of the lists.

Here are the top 100 primetime programs of 2018 (all numbers are live-plus-same-day). These lists will be updated when numbers for the final few days of the year are available.

Adults 18-49

Rank Show Network Airdate 18-49 rating
18-49 viewers (millions)
1 Super Bowl LII NBC Feb. 4 33.4 43.00
2 NFC Championship Fox Jan. 21 13.4 17.30
3 This Is Us NBC Feb. 4 9.3 11.99
4 College Football Playoff Championship ESPN Jan. 8 8.7 11.11
5 NFL Divisional Playoff CBS Jan. 13 7.9 10.24
6 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 9 7.5 9.66
7 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 4 7.4 9.59
8 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 16 7.0 9.05
  NFL Wild Card NBC Jan. 6 7.0 8.98
  Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 14 7.0 8.96
11 The Oscars ABC March 4 6.8 8.81
12 NFL Kickoff Game NBC Sept. 6 6.7 8.61
13 NFL Special NBC Nov. 22 6.6 8.49
  NBA Finals Game 2 ABC June 3 6.6 8.43
15 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony NBC Feb. 9 6.5 8.41
  NBA Finals Game 1 ABC May 31 6.5 8.38
  Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 11 6.5 8.37
  NBA Finals Game 3 ABC June 6 6.5 8.33
19 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 23 6.4 8.25
  Thursday Night Football Fox Nov. 29 6.4 8.25
21 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 30 6.1 7.89
  Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 25 6.1 7.84
23 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 7 6.0 7.79
24 Grammy Awards CBS Jan. 28 5.9 7.67
  Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 9 5.9 7.64
26 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 18 5.8 7.53
27 NBA West Finals Game 7 TNT May 28 5.7 7.28
28 Monday Night Football ESPN Nov. 19 5.5 7.08
29 Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 2 5.4 7.00
  Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 16 5.4 7.00
  Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 23 5.4 7.00
  NBA Finals Game 4 ABC June 8 5.4 6.99
  Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 11 5.4 6.95
34 Orange Bowl/CFP Semifinal ESPN Dec. 29 5.3 6.84
35 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 13 5.2 6.74
  Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 12 5.2 6.66
  Roseanne ABC March 27 5.2 6.65
38 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 21 5.1 6.58
39 Thursday Night Football Fox Dec. 13 5.0 6.45
  Thursday Night Football Fox Nov. 15 5.0 6.43
  Golden Globe Awards NBC Jan. 7 5.0 6.40
42 NBA East Finals Game 7 ESPN May 27 4.9 6.26
43 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 10 4.8 6.20
  World Series Game 5 Fox Oct. 28 4.8 6.20
  Thursday Night Football Fox Sept. 27 4.8 6.18
  Thursday Night Football Fox Oct. 11 4.8 6.14
  Thursday Night Football Fox Nov. 8 4.8 6.13
48 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 28 4.6 5.97
  Monday Night Football ESPN Oct. 1 4.6 5.93
  Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 30 4.5 5.84
51 Monday Night Football ESPN Sept. 24 4.4 5.67
  Thursday Night Football Fox Oct. 4 4.4 5.63
53 NCAA Men's Championship TBS April 2 4.1 5.24
  Monday Night Football ESPN Oct. 15 4.1 5.20
55 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 14 4.0 5.17
  60 Minutes CBS March 25 4.0 5.15
  Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 20 4.0 5.11
  Monday Night Football ESPN Sept. 17 4.0 5.11
59 Roseanne ABC April 3 3.9 5.07
  Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 15 3.9 5.06
  Monday Night Football ESPN Dec. 17 3.9 5.06
  Monday Night Football ESPN Nov. 5 3.9 5.02
63 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 16 3.8 4.96
  Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 19 3.8 4.92
  Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 18 3.8 4.91
  Monday Night Football Game 1 ESPN Sept. 10 3.8 4.84
67 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 8 3.7 4.75
  World Series Game 1 Fox Oct. 23 3.7 4.75
  Monday Night Football Game 2 ESPN Sept. 10 3.7 4.71
  Thursday Night Football Fox Oct. 25 3.7 4.70
71 The Walking Dead AMC Feb. 25 3.6 4.66
  Monday Night Football ESPN Dec. 3 3.6 4.63
  Monday Night Football ESPN Oct. 8 3.6 4.61
  NBA West Finals Game 5 TNT May 24 3.6 4.54
75 Monday Night Football ESPN Oct. 29 3.5 4.53
  Roseanne ABC April 10 3.5 4.49
  NBA West Finals Game 1 TNT May 14 3.5 4.49
  Primetime New Year's Rockin' Eve Pt 2 ABC Dec. 31 3.5 4.48
  Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 22 3.5 4.47
  Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 16 3.5 4.46
  Roseanne ABC April 17 3.5 4.45
  Monday Night Football ESPN Oct. 22 3.5 4.42
  Monday Night Football ESPN Nov. 12 3.5 4.42
84 The Walking Dead AMC April 15 3.4 4.37
  World Series Game 3 Fox Oct. 26 3.4 4.35
  NBA West Finals Game 6 TNT May 26 3.4 4.34
  World Series Game 2 Fox Oct. 24 3.4 4.32
88 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 21 3.3 4.31
  College Football CBS Nov. 3 3.3 4.30
  World Series Game 4 Fox Oct. 27 3.3 4.27
  Thursday Night Football Fox Nov. 1 3.3 4.20
  The Simpsons Fox Jan. 14 3.3 4.19
  NCAA Final Four TBS March 31 3.3 4.17
  NBA East Finals Game 2 ESPN May 15 3.3 4.16
95 Thursday Night Football Fox Dec. 6 3.1 4.02
  The Big Bang Theory CBS Jan. 4 3.1 3.99
  The Big Bang Theory CBS Jan. 11 3.1 3.97
  NBA West Finals Game 4 TNT May 22 3.1 3.97
  Monday Night Football ESPN Nov. 26 3.1 3.94
  NBA East Finals Game 4 ESPN May 21 3.1 3.92

Total Viewers

Rank Show Network Airdate
Total viewers (millions)
1 Super Bowl LII NBC Feb. 4 103.39
2 NFC Championship Fox Jan. 21 42.30
3 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony NBC Feb. 9 27.84
4 College Football Playoff Championship ESPN Jan. 8 27.38
5 This Is Us NBC Feb. 4 26.97
6 NFL Divisional Playoff CBS Jan. 13 26.69
7 The Oscars ABC March 4 26.54
8 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 4 23.68
9 NFL Wild Card NBC Jan. 6 22.82
10 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 11 22.69
11 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 9 22.12
12 60 Minutes CBS March 25 22.11
13 NFL Special NBC Nov. 22 21.73
14 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 10 21.39
  Thursday Night Football Fox Nov. 29 21.39
16 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 14 21.11
17 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 16 20.66
18 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 13 20.53
19 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 25 20.44
20 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 12 20.33
21 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 11 20.10
22 Grammy Awards CBS Jan. 28 19.80
23 Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 23 19.57
24 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 23 19.46
25 Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 9 19.39
26 NFL Kickoff Game NBC Sept. 6 19.03
27 Golden Globe Awards NBC Jan. 7 19.01
28 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 18 18.84
29 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 7 18.59
30 Orange Bowl/CFP Semifinal ESPN Dec. 29 18.49
31 NBA Finals Game 2 ABC June 3 18.47
32 Roseanne ABC March 27 18.45
33 Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 16 18.12
34 NBA Finals Game 3 ABC June 6 17.94
35 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 30 17.92
36 Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 2 17.83
37 NBA Finals Game 1 ABC May 31 17.67
38 World Series Game 5 Fox Oct. 28 17.63
39 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 20 17.53
40 Thursday Night Football Fox Dec. 13 17.41
41 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 14 17.08
42 Thursday Night Football Fox Nov. 15 16.89
43 Monday Night Football ESPN Nov. 19 16.61
44 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 16 16.59
45 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 18 16.38
46 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 19 16.34
47 NBA Finals Game 4 ABC June 8 16.24
48 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 15 16.22
49 The Big Bang Theory CBS Jan. 4 16.16
50 Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 30 16.05
51 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 21 16.02
52 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 8 16.00
53 The Big Bang Theory CBS Jan. 11 15.93
54 The Big Bang Theory CBS May 10 15.52
55 Roseanne ABC April 3 15.40
56 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 22 15.25
57 NCIS CBS May 8 15.09
58 The Big Bang Theory CBS Jan. 18 14.93
59 NBA West Finals Game 7 TNT May 28 14.81
60 Thursday Night Football Fox Nov. 8 14.80
61 Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony NBC Feb. 25 14.78
62 Thursday Night Football Fox Oct. 11 14.76
63 Young Sheldon CBS Jan. 4 14.70
  The Big Bang Theory CBS Feb. 1 14.70
65 60 Minutes CBS Dec. 16 14.55
66 Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 17 14.52
67 Thursday Night Football Fox Sept. 27 14.51
68 NCIS CBS Jan. 9 14.24
69 Young Sheldon CBS Jan. 11 14.17
  Winter Olympics NBC Feb. 21 14.17
71 NCIS CBS Jan. 2 14.11
72 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 28 14.09
73 60 Minutes CBS Oct. 21 14.07
74 NCIS CBS Jan. 23 13.97
75 NCIS CBS Feb. 6 13.90
76 The Big Bang Theory CBS March 8 13.88
77 World Series Game 1 Fox Oct. 23 13.81
78 Roseanne ABC April 10 13.77
79 The Big Bang Theory CBS March 1 13.76
80 World Series Game 4 Fox Oct. 27 13.56
81 60 Minutes CBS Sept. 30 13.54
82 World Series Game 2 Fox Oct. 24 13.51
83 Young Sheldon CBS Jan. 18 13.33
84 NBA East Finals Game 7 ESPN May 27 13.31
85 NCAA Men's Championship TBS April 2 13.28
86 NCIS CBS March 13 13.27
87 The Big Bang Theory CBS March 29 13.27
  Roseanne ABC April 17 13.27
  Thursday Night Football Fox Oct. 4 13.27
90 World Series Game 3 Fox Oct. 26 13.25
91 Monday Night Football ESPN Oct. 1 13.21
92 Monday Night Football ESPN Dec. 17 13.01
93 The Big Bang Theory CBS April 5 13.00
  The Big Bang Theory CBS Oct. 25 13.00
95 America's Got Talent NBC Sept. 18 12.99
96 60 Minutes CBS Nov. 25 12.96
97 The Big Bang Theory NBC Oct. 11 12.95
98 The Big Bang Theory CBS May 3 12.93
  The Big Bang Theory CBS Sept. 27 12.93
100 Young Sheldon CBS Feb. 1 12.92
  NCIS CBS March 6 12.92

Source: The Nielsen Company.

Jan. 2, 2:40 p.m. Updated rankings with telecasts that aired after initial publication.