That the Super Bowl is the most-watched TV program of the year should be no surprise to anyone. It’s been No. 1 for, oh, 30-some years running.

Here’s how far ahead of everything else Super Bowl LI was in 2017: Its average audience of 111.32 million viewers was 132 percent larger than the next most-watched primetime program — the AFC Championship game, which averaged 47.95 million viewers.

As was the case with the adults 18-49 rankings for the year, ABC’s Oscars broadcast was the top non-sports show, pulling in 32.94 million viewers. The Grammy Awards (26.07 million) also broke into the top 10.

Aside from sports, “NCIS” was the most frequent entrant in the top 100: 19 episodes of the show made the list. That’s three more than another CBS show, “The Big Bang Theory.”

The figures below are live + same-day viewer numbers, and the list includes only primetime shows. Sports pre- and post-game shows are excluded.

Top 100 primetime telecasts (including ties) of 2017 in total viewers

Rank Show Network Airdate
Total viewers (millions)
1 Super Bowl LI FOX Feb. 5 111.32
2 AFC Championship CBS Jan. 22 47.95
3 NFL Divsional Playoff NBC Jan. 15 37.11
4 The Oscars ABC Feb. 26 32.94
5 NFL Divsional Playoff CBS Jan. 14 29.82
6 World Series Game 7 FOX Nov. 1 28.29
7 NFL Wild-Card Game NBC Jan. 7 26.89
8 Grammy Awards CBS Feb. 12 26.07
9 NBA Finals Game 5 ABC June 12 24.53
10 College Football Playoff Championship ESPN Jan. 9 24.42
11 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 10 24.37
12 Sunday Night Football NBC Jan. 1 23.82
13 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship CBS April 3 23.01
14 World Series Game 6 FOX Oct. 31 22.33
15 NFL Kickoff game NBC Sept. 7 21.80
16 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 19 21.06
17 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 17 20.24
18 NBA Finals Game 3 ABC June 7 20.10
19 Golden Globe Awards NBC Jan. 8 20.02
20 NBA Finals Game 2 ABC June 4 19.69
Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 3 19.69
22 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 22 19.24
23 NBA Finals Game 4 ABC June 9 19.01
24 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 26 18.95
25 World Series Game 5 FOX Oct. 29 18.94
26 NCAA FInal Four CBS April 1 18.83
27 NBA Finals Game 1 ABC June 1 18.74
28 The Big Bang Theory CBS Sept. 25 17.66
29 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 12 17.51
30 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 24 17.48
31 Young Sheldon CBS Sept. 25 17.22
32 Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 10 17.20
33 NFL Football/Thanksgiving Night NBC Nov. 23 16.91
34 The Big Bang Theory CBS Jan. 5 16.81
35 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 1 16.73
36 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 8 16.53
37 NCIS CBS Jan. 24 16.21
38 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 15 16.16
39 Live from the Red Carpet ABC Feb. 26 15.88
40 NCIS CBS Jan. 3 15.80
Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve part 2 ABC Dec. 31 15.80
42 Rose Bowl ESPN Jan. 2 15.75
43 World Series Game 3 FOX Oct. 27 15.68
44 America’s Got Talent NBC Sept. 20 15.64
45 Thursday Night Football NBC Nov. 30 15.60
46 NCIS CBS Feb. 7 15.57
47 NCIS CBS Jan. 17 15.50
World Series Game 2 FOX Oct. 25 15.50
49 Thursday Night Football CBS Oct. 5 15.45
50 World Series Game 4 FOX Oct. 28 15.40
51 The Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special CBS Dec. 3 15.36
52 NCIS CBS Feb. 14 15.29
Saturday Night Football NBC Dec. 24 15.29
54 The Big Bang Theory CBS Jan. 19 15.16
55 60 Minutes CBS Nov. 5 15.09
56 World Series Game 1 FOX Oct. 24 14.98
57 NCIS CBS Feb. 21 14.87
58 60 Minutes CBS Sept. 24 14.83
59 America’s Got Talent NBC Sept. 19 14.70
60 Minutes CBS March 26 14.70
61 The Big Bang Theory CBS Feb. 2 14.66
62 Thursday Night Football CBS Sept. 28 14.62
63 Thursday Night Football NBC Dec. 7 14.61
64 Thursday Night Football CBS Oct. 12 14.60
65 Thursday Night Football CBS Oct. 19 14.58
66 The Big Bang Theory CBS Dec. 7 14.41
67 60 Minutes CBS Oct. 22 14.39
68 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 5 14.36
69 NCIS CBS March 28 14.35
70 CMA Awards ABC Nov. 8 14.28
71 NCIS CBS March 7 14.18
72 NCIS CBS March 14 14.16
The Big Bang Theory CBS Nov. 2 14.16
74 The Big Bang Theory CBS Oct. 2 14.04
75 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 29 13.86
76 The Big Bang Theory CBS Nov. 30 13.84
77 NCIS CBS April 4 13.83
78 The Big Bang Theory CBS Nov. 9 13.80
79 Monday Night Football ESPN Sept. 25 13.69
80 NCIS CBS Oct. 10 13.61
81 Thursday Night Football NBC Nov. 16 13.52
82 The Big Bang Theory CBS Feb. 17 13.51
NCIS CBS Oct. 3 13.51
84 NCIS CBS Nov. 7 13.47
85 America’s Got Talent NBC Aug. 15 13.44
The Big Bang Theory CBS Nov. 16 13.44
87 NCIS CBS May 9 13.39
88 The Big Bang Theory CBS Feb. 23 13.38
89 60 Minutes CBS Oct. 15 13.34
90 America’s Got Talent NBC Aug. 15 13.33
NCIS CBS April 18 13.33
92 America’s Got Talent NBC Aug. 8 13.32
93 NCIS CBS Oct. 24 13.30
94 NCIS CBS Sept. 26 13.29
95 The Big Bang Theory CBS Oct. 23 13.21
96 NCIS CBS May 16 13.19
97 The Big Bang Theory CBS Oct. 9 13.14
98 Thursday Night Football NBC Nov. 9 13.11
99 NCIS CBS Nov. 14 13.09
100 The Big Bang Theory CBS March 9 13.08
America’s Got Talent NBC July 25 13.08
The Big Bang Theory CBS Oct. 16 13.08

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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