The 10 most-watched and 10 least-watched TV shows of the 2021-22 season

From CBS’ “NCIS” to Fox’s “Duncanville,” here are the top 10 and bottom 10 Big 4 TV shows airing this season.

Despite what you may have heard, linear TV isn’t dead yet – and we’ve got 10 shows airing that proved it over the last TV season from September to May. Then again, we also have 10 that definitely suggest otherwise.

Once again, the CBS juggernaut “NCIS” was the most-watched show on air (including all viewers two years and older, with one week of deferred viewing counted), according to Nielsen statistics. (“NCIS” was the best show in all of linear television; that is, until Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” got into these parts here.) CBS’s procedural was the best shown during four in a row and 12 of the last 13 seasons (NBC’s “This Is Us” triumphed in 2017-18). CBS’ “FBI” was the only other entertainment program airing on television to average more than 10 million viewers per episode this season.

For the purposes of this story, we’ve omitted sports and news; otherwise, the majority of the top 10 list would be football. The only potential casualty of news programming here is “60 Minutes,” CBS’ long-running newsmagazine series that can really go either way gender-wise. However, we don’t give CBS the end of the stick: the most-watched broadcast channel occupies 70% of our top 10 and was the only network of the so-called Big 4 (CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC) that didn’t had no shows in the last 10.

A final caveat regarding storage. We declined to include The CW in this story. If we had, the least-watched list would have read like the young, digital broadcaster’s prime-time programming map (these two go hand in hand). It wouldn’t be fun, or fair (to them, at least; Fox surely wouldn’t have been bothered).

Focusing on total viewership is good in some ways and not so good in others. It disproportionately rewards channels and shows that cater to older viewers (read: CBS and Proceedings). Perfectly, the only three non-CBS series in the top 10 this season were Dick Wolf’s three “Chicago” shows on NBC. Crossing the nets, Wolf the super-producer represents half of the series on this list: the entirety of this “Chicago” universe and the two qualifying “FBI” series.

Find the top 10 below, of which eight series are dramas and two are comedies. One, CBS’ “Ghosts,” is a freshman show. As you can imagine, each of these 10 shows has been renewed.

Most-watched broadcast series, 2021-22 season

1. “NCIS” (CBS): 10.974 million viewers
2. “FBI” (CBS): 10.354 million viewers
3. “Chicago Fire” (NBC): 9.917 million viewers
4. “Blue Bloods” (CBS): 9.608 million viewers
5. “The Equalizer” (CBS): 9.301 million viewers
6. “Chicago PD” (NBC): 9.254 million viewers
7. “Young Sheldon” (CBS): 9.222 million viewers
8. “Chicago Med” (NBC): 9.203 million viewers
9. “FBI: Most Wanted” (CBS): 8.846 million viewers
10. “Ghosts” (CBS): 8.409 million viewers

Queen Latifah stars in the CBS series “The Equalizer”.

Michael Greenberg/CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved.

While NBC executives will be thrilled to see “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD,” and “Chicago Med” on our list, they might not be thrilled that we’re calling September through May the “TV season” in 2022. Traditionally, Nielsen separated the summer — and still does, in many ways — because the warm months were just reruns.

These days, networks schedule a mix of originals and reruns. No one does it better than NBC, which prefers a September-to-September approach to measuring throughout the season. It’s possible that a strong showing from the best regular show of the summer, “America’s Got Talent,” will knock “Ghosts” off this list (and potentially even move a few other shows down). “AGT” averaged 8.7 million viewers on Tuesdays last summer, 9.0 million in the summer of 2020 and 11.9 million the summer before the Covid pandemic stole much of the magic of performance competition series.

We know why you are really here. Without further ado, here are the least-watched broadcast series of the season. To avoid weird one-offs, we’ve only included shows that aired a minimum of two episodes in the time slot under consideration.

Least-watched broadcast series, season 2021-22

10. “Queens” (ABC): 1.855 million viewers
9. “Rotating” (Fox): 1.848 million viewers
8. “Grand Crew” (NBC): 1.810 million viewers
7. “Kenan – 8:30” (8:30, NBC): 1.725 million viewers
6. “Bob’s Burgers” (Fox): 1.606 million viewers
5. “Home Sweet Home” (NBC): 1.461 million viewers
4. “Le Grand Nord” (Fox): 1.337 million viewers
3. “Welcome to Flatch” (Fox): 1.068 million viewers
2. “The Courtship” (NBC): 919,000 viewers
1. “Duncanville” (Fox): 536,000 spectators


“The Courtship”

Sean Gleason/American Network

As you can see, half of the top 10 shows aired on Fox. Three of them are animated series, which lean towards young people and viewing on digital platforms – not all of which are measured by Nielsen (let alone occur within seven days of a linear premiere). episode). For example, according to Fox’s own internal data, the average episode of “Bob’s Burgers” reaches nearly 7 million viewers counting all platforms and every day following a premiere, to date. Anyway, don’t feel too bad for “Duncanville,” “Bob’s Burgers,” and “The Great North” — they’ve all been renewed by Fox. As of this writing, the fates of “Pivoting” and “Flatch” are yet to be determined.

There’s an argument to be made that “Kenan” is placed unfairly here: the five episodes that aired at 8:30 p.m. were mediocre enough to make our list, but the lion’s share of Season 2 episodes in the normal series 8 p.m. clock time slot did not. Anyway, this series was canceled, just like the other series of the last 10, unscripted NBC shows “Home Sweet Home” and “The Courtship”. (In fact, both weren’t just canceled — they were unceremoniously removed from NBC’s schedule earlier.)

Our last two shows, Fox’s “Duncanville” and NBC’s “Bridgerton”-inspired dating series, haven’t even pulled in a million viewers per episode.

Despite its own struggle to find an audience, NBC’s “Grand Crew” was renewed for a second try; ABC’s “Queens” was not. But we’ll still have this “Queens” certified banger, courtesy of Swizz Beatz (and yes, the queens):

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