It’s no surprise that Super Bowl 50 tops the list of most-watched telecasts of 2016. The Super Bowl is annually the No. 1 show on American TV by a huge margin.

Here’s how big the margin was in 2016: The gap between the game (111.9 million viewers) and the post-game show (70 million), which ranked second, would itself be a Top 10 show.

As was the case with the adults 18-49 rankings, the Academy Awards was the top non-sports telecast of the year with 34.43 million viewers. The Top 40 non-sports shows of 2016 follow the Top 100 overall.

See also the Top 100 telecasts of 2016 among adults 18-49.

All figures below are live + same-day ratings. They do not include election night telecasts or programming that aired on multiple networks at once, such as the presidential debates.

Top 100 primetime telecasts of 2016 in total viewers

Rank Show Network Airdate Total viewers (millions)
1 Super Bowl 50 CBS Feb. 7 111.90
2 Super Bowl 50 postgame CBS Feb. 7 70.00
3 NFC Championship FOX Jan. 24 45.74
4 World Series Game 7 FOX Nov. 2 40.05
5 Academy Awards ABC Feb. 28 34.43
6 NFL Divisional Playoff NBC Jan. 16 33.73
7 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 9 33.44
8 NFL Wild-Card Game CBS Jan. 9 31.23
9 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 11 31.22
10 NBA Finals Game 7 ABC June 19 31.02
11 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 7 29.78
12 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 8 28.86
13 NBA Trophy Presentation ABC June 19 27.77
14 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 14 26.75
15 Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 11 26.50
16 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony NBC Aug. 5 26.49
17 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 12 26.45
18 College Football Playoff Championship ESPN Jan. 11 25.67
19 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 13 25.52
20 NFL season opener NBC Sept. 8 25.19
21 Grammy Awards CBS Feb. 15 24.95
22 NFC Championship postgame FOX Jan. 24 24.32
23 Sunday Night Football NBC Jan. 3 24.29
24 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 15 24.22
25 Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 18 24.15
26 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 16 24.14
27 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 12 24.02
28 World Series Game 5 FOX Oct. 30 23.64
29 World Series Game 6 FOX Nov. 1 23.40
30 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 11 23.09
31 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 18 22.75
32 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 13 22.51
33 Thursday Night Football NBC Dec. 1 21.76
34 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 18 21.70
35 NFL Thanksgiving special NBC Nov. 24 20.88
36 NBA Finals Game 6 ABC June 16 20.71
37 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 17 20.68
38 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 6 20.63
39 60 Minutes CBS Jan. 17 20.62
Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 25 20.62
41 The Late Show with Stephen Colbert CBS Feb. 7 20.55
42 NBA Finals Game 5 ABC June 13 20.54
43 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 19 20.05
44 60 Minutes CBS Nov. 13 20.00
45 World Series Game 3 FOX Oct. 28 19.38
46 World Series Game 1 FOX Oct. 25 19.37
47 NBA Finals Game 1 ABC June 2 19.21
48 NCIS CBS Jan. 5 18.97
49 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 20 18.73
50 Monday Night Football ESPN Dec. 26 18.61
51 The OT FOX Nov. 13 18.56
52 Golden Globe Awards NBC Jan. 10 18.51
53 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 27 18.44
54 College Football Playoff semifnal 2 ESPN Dec. 31 18.40
55 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 6 18.33
56 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 2 18.06
57 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 30 17.02
58 NCIS CBS May 17 18.01
59 Thursday Night Football NBC Dec. 22 17.94
60 Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 4 17.75
61 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 23 17.71
62 Thursday Night Football CBS Sept. 22 17.55
63 NCIS CBS Jan. 19 17.51
64 NBA Finals Game 2 ABC June 5 17.49
65 NCIS CBS Feb. 23 17.47
66 World Series Game 2 FOX Oct. 26 17.39
Thursday Night Football NBC Dec. 8 17.39
68 NCIS CBS Feb. 16 17.34
69 World Seies pregame FOX Oct. 30 17.31
70 60 Minutes CBS Nov. 27 17.27
71 NCIS: New Orleans CBS Jan. 5 17.25
72 Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony NBC Aug. 21 17.03
73 The Walking Dead AMC Oct. 23 17.03
74 NCIS CBS Feb. 9 16.94
75 Republican primary debate Fox News March 3 16.83
76 World Series Game 4 FOX Oct. 29 16.71
77 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 9 16.62
78 NBA Finals Game 4 ABC June 10 16.57
79 Live from the Red Carpet ABC Feb. 28 16.51
80 NBA Finals Game 3 ABC June 8 16.47
81 The Big Bang Theory CBS Feb. 11 16.25
82 The X-Files FOX Jan. 24 16.19
83 NCIS CBS May 10 16.04
84 NBA Western Conference Finals Game 7 TNT May 30 16.00
85 NCIS CBS Sept. 20 15.99
60 Minutes CBS Oct. 23 15.99
87 The Big Bang Theory CBS Feb.25 15.94
88 NCIS CBS March 22 15.90
89 The Big Bang Theory CBS Jan. 7 15.85
90 The Big Bang Theory CBS Sept. 19 15.82
91 The Big Bang Theory CBS Jan. 14 15.75
92 NCIS CBS April 5 15.67
93 Bull CBS Sept. 20 15.57
94 NCIS CBS Sept. 27 15.52
95 NCIS CBS March 1 15.44
96 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 20 15.41
97 Thursday Night Football CBS Sept. 15 15.39
98 The OT FOX Oct. 16 15.38
99 60 Minutes CBS Jan. 3 15.36
100 The Big Bang Theory CBS Feb. 4 15.29

 

Top 40 non-sports primetime telecasts of 2016 in total viewers

Rank Show Network Airdate Total viewers (millions)
1 Academy Awards ABC Feb. 28 34.43
2 Grammy Awards CBS Feb. 15 24.95
3 60 Minutes CBS Jan. 17 20.62
4 The Late Show with Stephen Colbert CBS Feb. 7 20.55
5 60 Minutes CBS Nov. 13 20.00
6 NCIS CBS Jan. 5 18.97
7 Golden Globe Awards NBC Jan. 10 18.51
8 NCIS CBS May 17 18.01
9 NCIS CBS Jan. 19 17.51
10 NCIS CBS Feb. 23 17.47
11 NCIS CBS Feb. 16 17.34
12 60 Minutes CBS Nov. 27 17.27
13 NCIS: New Orleans CBS Jan. 5 17.25
14 The Walking Dead AMC Oct. 23 17.03
15 NCIS CBS Feb. 9 16.94
16 Republican primary debate Fox News March 3 16.83
17 Live from the Red Carpet ABC Feb. 28 16.51
18 The Big Bang Theory CBS Feb. 11 16.25
19 The X-Files FOX Jan. 24 16.19
20 NCIS CBS May 10 16.04
21 NCIS CBS Sept. 20 15.99
60 Minutes CBS Oct. 23 15.99
23 The Big Bang Theory CBS Dec. 15 15.96
24 The Big Bang Theory CBS Feb. 25 15.94
25 NCIS CBS March 22 15.90
26 The Big Bang Theory CBS Jan. 7 15.85
27 The Big Bang Theory CBS Sept. 19 15.82
28 The Big Bang Theory CBS Jan. 14 15.75
29 NCIS CBS Aprl 5 15.67
30 Bull CBS Sept. 20 15.57
31 NCIS CBS Sept. 27 15.52
32 NCIS CBS March 1 15.44
33 60 Minutes CBS Jan. 3 15.36
34 The Big Bang Theory CBS Feb. 4 15.29
35 The Big Bang Theory CBS Feb. 18 15.24
36 NCIS CBS March 15 15.10
37 Little Big Shots NBC March 13 15.00
38 60 Minutes CBS Nov. 20 14.89
39 NCIS CBS Nov. 22 14.86
NCIS CBS May 3 14.86

Source: The Nielsen Company.

Posted by:Rick Porter

Rick Porter has been covering TV since the days when networks sent screeners on VHS, one of which was a teaser for the first season of "American Idol." He's left-handed, makes a very solid grilled cheese and has been editor of TV by the Numbers since October 2015. He lives in Austin.

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