America’s most watched TV shows 1950-2015


I thought it might be interesting to have a look at the top ranked TV show from each season in America since the Nielsen Ratings first appeared in 1950. As the home of TV, the USA has set the pace for the rest of the world with its programs, some great, some OK, and some pretty awful. Here in Australia we tend to like, entertainment-wise, what Americans like (generally speaking), so most of the shows you see listed below hit it big Down Under as well, the most noticeable exception being NBC; Sunday Night Football. Just as few Americans understand or enjoy Australian Rules Football, few Australians understand or like American Grid-Iron. Overall, however, we in Australia tend to embrace the same series as the USA, as this list proves. Unfortunately, there appear to be no Nielsen Ratings for the same period of time for Australia, so any comparison is, unfortunately, not possible.


1950-51       Texaco Star Theater


1951 -52     Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts


1952-1953       I Love Lucy

1953-1954       I Love Lucy

1954-1955       I Love Lucy


1955-1956       The $64,000 Question


1956-1957       I Love Lucy


1957-1958       Gunsmoke

1958-1959       Gunsmoke

1959-1960       Gunsmoke

1960-1961       Gunsmoke


1961-1962       Wagon Train


1962-1963       The Beverly Hillbillies

1963-1964       The Beverly Hillbillies


1964-1965       Bonanza

1965-1966       Bonanza

1966-1967       Bonanza


1967-1968       The Andy Griffith Show


1968-1969       Rowen & Martin’s Laugh-In

1969-1970       Rowen & Martin’s Laugh-In


1970-1971       Marcus Welby, M.D.


1971-1972       All in the Family

1972-1973       All in the Family

1973-1974       All in the Family

1974-1975       All in the Family

1975-1976       All in the Family


1976-1977       Happy Days


1977-1978       Laverne and Shirley

1978-1979       Laverne and Shirley


1979-1980       60 Minutes


1980-1981       Dallas

1981-1982       Dallas


1982-1983       60 Minutes


1983-1984       Dallas


1984-1985       Dynasty


1985-1986       The Cosby Show

1986-1987       The Cosby Show

1987-1988       The Cosby Show

1988-1989       The Cosby Show

1989-1990       The Cosby Show (tied with Roseanne)


1989-1990       Roseanne (tied with Bill Cosby Show)


1990-1991       Cheers




1991-1992       60 Minutes

1992-1993       60 Minutes

1993-1994       60 Minutes


1994-1995       Seinfeld


1995-1996       ER

1996-1997       ER


1997-1998       Seinfeld


1998-1999       ER


1999-2000       Who wants to be a Millionaire?


2000-2001       Survivor: Australian Outback


2001-2002       Friends


2002-2003       CSI: Crime Scene Investigation


2003-2004       American Idol

2004-2005       American Idol

2005-2006       American Idol

2006-2007       American Idol

2007-2008       American Idol

2008-2009       American Idol

2009-2010       American Idol

2010-2011       American Idol


2011-2012       NBC: Sunday Night Football


2012-2013       NCIS


2013-2014       NBC: Sunday Night Football

2014-2015       NBC: Sunday Night Football


So, the overall, all-time champion show is – God help us – American Idol!













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