Here are the Top 100 primetime telecasts (including a couple of ties) of 2016 in adults 18-49.

Super Bowl 50 ranks No. 1 by a large margin. Live sports dominates the Top 100, taking nine of the Top 10 spots — the Oscars on ABC, at No. 8 is the lone entertainment show in the Top 10 — and making up more than half the entire list. The Top 40 non-sports shows of the year follow the first chart.

Speaking of the Oscars, although they were down in 2016 they were still easily the biggest non-sports telecast of the year.

See also the 100 most-watched programs of the year in viewers.

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 among adults 18-49 in 2016

Rank Show Network Airdate 18-49 rating 18-49 viewers (millions)
1 Super Bowl 50 CBS Feb. 7 37.7 47.86
2 Super Bowl 50 postgame CBS Feb. 7 25.4 32.18
3 NFC Championship FOX Jan. 24 15.7 19.92
4 World Series Game 7 FOX Nov. 2 12.6 16.19
5 NBA Finals Game 7 ABC June 19 11.3 14.32
6 NBA Trophy Presentation ABC June 19 10.6 13.48
NFL Divisional Playoff NBC Jan. 16 10.6 13.47
8 Academy Awards ABC Feb. 28 10.5 13.27
9 NFL Wild-Card Game CBS Jan. 9 10.1 12.78
10 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 9 10.0 12.62
11 NFL season opener NBC Sept. 8 9.4 12.03
12 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 7 9.1 11.54
Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 11 9.1 11.53
NFC Championship postgame FOX Jan. 24 9.1 11.49
15 Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 11 8.7 11.16
16 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 8 8.6 10.92
17 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 11 8.4 10.82
The Walking Dead AMC Oct. 23 8.4 10.72
19 College Football Playoff Championship ESPN Jan. 11 8.3 10.48
20 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 18 8.2 10.53
21 Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 18 8.1 10.39
22 Sunday Night Football NBC Jan. 3 7.9 10.03
Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 14 7.9 9.96
24 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 13 7.7 9.85
Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 10 7.7 9.82
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert CBS Feb. 7 7.7 9.79
NBA Finals Game 6 ABC June 16 7.7 9.79
Grammy Awards CBS Feb. 15 7.7 9.71
29 Sunday Night Football NBC Sept. 25 7.6 9.71
NBA Finals Game 5 ABC June 13 7.6 9.63
31 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony NBC Aug. 5 7.5 9.54
32 NBA Finals Game 1 ABC June 2 7.3 9.26
33 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 15 7.0 8.85
34 NFL Thanksgiving special NBC Nov. 24 6.9 8.88
The Walking Dead AMC April 3 6.9 8.78
Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 16 6.9 8.7
37 Thursday Night Football NBC Dec. 1 6.8 8.73
The Walking Dead AMC Feb. 14 6.8 8.57
Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 13 6.8 8.56
40 The OT FOX Nov. 13 6.7 8.65
World Series Game 5 FOX Oct. 30 6.7 8.64
Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 2 6.7 8.58
43 World Series Game 6 FOX Nov. 1 6.6 8.5
Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 6 6.6 8.47
The Walking Dead AMC Feb. 21 6.6 8.35
46 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 30 6.5 8.34
NBA Finals Game 2 ABC June 5 6.5 8.28
48 Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 25 6.4 8.21
NBA Western Conference Finals Game 7 TNT May 30 6.4 8.12
Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 12 6.4 8.11
51 Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 27 6.2 7.95
Sunday Night Football NBC Nov. 20 6.2 7.91
53 The Walking Dead AMC Oct. 30 6.1 7.81
The X-Files FOX Jan. 24 6.1 7.8
NBA Finals Game 3 ABC June 8 6.1 7.8
The Walkng Dead AMC March 6 6.1 7.8
Sunday Night Football NBC Dec. 4 6.1 7.78
Thursday Night Football CBS Sept. 22 6.1 7.78
Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 18 6.1 7.75
The Walking Dead AMC Feb. 28 6.1 7.71
61 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 23 6.0 7.72
NBA Finals Game 4 ABC June 10 6.0 7.67
The Walking Dead AMC March 20 6.0 7.66
The Walking Dead AMC March 13 6.0 7.56
65 Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 9 5.9 7.53
Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 6 5.9 7.5
67 Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 17 5.8 7.41
Monday Night Football ESPN Dec. 26 5.8 7.41
The Walking Dead AMC March 27 5.8 7.39
70 The Walking Dead AMC Nov. 6 5.7 7.28
71 Thursday Night Football NBC Dec. 8 5.6 7.2
World Series Game 1 FOX Oct. 25 5.6 7.14
73 College Football Playoff Semifinal 2 ESPN Dec. 31 5.5 7.12
The OT FOX Oct. 16 5.5 7.07
Summer Olympics NBC Aug. 19 5.5 6.97
Golden Globe Awards NBC Jan. 10 5.5 6.92
77 The Walking Dead AMC Nov. 13 5.4 6.97
Thursday Night Football CBS Sept. 15 5.4 6.94
79 The OT FOX Sept. 11 5.2 6.71
World Series Game 3 FOX Oct. 28 5.2 6.66
The Walking Dead AMC Nov. 20 5.2 6.54
82 Thursday Night Football NBC Dec. 22 5.1 6.5
83 World Series pregame FOX Oct. 30 5.0 6.47
84 The Walking Dead AMC Dec. 4 4.9 6.35
Sunday Night Football NBC Oct. 16 4.9 6.3
The Walking Dead AMC Nov. 27 4.9 6.29
87 World Series Game 2 FOX Oct. 26 4.8 6.11
Monday Night Football game 1 ESPN Sept. 12 4.8 6.11
Empire FOX March 30 4.8 6.07
60 Minutes CBS Jan. 17 4.8 6.03
91 Thursday Night Football CBS Oct. 13 4.7 6.05
Monday Night Football ESPN Oct. 3 4.7 5.97
93 Monday Night Football ESPN Sept. 19 4.5 5.82
Thursday Night Football CBS Oct. 20 4.5 5.8
NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship TBS April 4 4.5 5.73
The OT FOX Oct. 30 4.5 5.71
97 The OT FOX Oct. 2 4.3 5.54
Game of Thrones HBO June 26 4.3 5.51
Grease Live FOX Jan. 31 4.3 5.48
Empire FOX April 6 4.3 5.4

Top 40 non-sports primetime telecasts (including ties) among adults 18-49 in 2016

Rank Show Network Airdate 18-49 rating 18-49 viewers (millions)
1 Academy Awards ABC Feb. 28 10.5 13.27
2 The Walking Dead AMC Oct. 23 8.4 10.72
3 The Late Show with Stephen Colbert CBS Feb. 7 7.7 9.79
Grammy Awards CBS Feb. 15 7.7 9.71
5 The Walking Dead AMC April 3 6.9 8.78
6 The Walking Dead AMC Feb. 14 6.8 8.57
7 The Walking Dead AMC Feb. 21 6.6 8.35
8 The Walking Dead AMC Oct. 30 6.1 7.81
The X-Files FOX Jan. 24 6.1 7.8
The Walking Dead AMC March 6 6.1 7.8
11 The Walking Dead AMC March 20 6.0 7.66
The Walking Dead AMC March 13 6.0 7.56
13 The Walking Dead AMC March 27 5.8 7.39
14 The Walking Dead AMC Nov. 6 5.7 7.28
15 Golden Globe Awards NBC Jan. 10 5.5 6.92
16 The Walking Dead AMC Nov. 13 5.4 6.97
17 The Walking Dead AMC Nov. 20 5.2 6.54
18 The Walking Dead AMC Dec. 4 4.9 6.35
The Walking Dead AMC Nov. 27 4.9 6.29
20 Empire FOX March 30 4.8 6.07
60 Minutes CBS Jan. 17 4.8 6.03
22 Game of Thrones HBO June 26 4.3 5.51
Grease Live FOX Jan. 31 4.3 5.48
Empire FOX April 6 4.3 5.4
25 Empire FOX Sept. 21 4.2 5.33
26 Live from the Red Carpet ABC Feb. 28 4.1 5.28
Empire FOX May 18 4.1 5.19
28 Game of Thrones HBO April 24 4.0 5.05
Game of Thrones HBO May 22 4.0 5.02
30 Game of Thrones HBO June 5 3.9 5.01
Game of Thrones HBO May 15 3.9 4.97
Game of Thrones HBO June 12 3.9 4.92
33 Game of Thrones HBO June 19 3.8 4.88
Empire FOX April 13 3.8 4.87
The Big Bang Theory CBS Sept. 19 3.8 4.83
Empire FOX April 27 3.8 4.82
37 Empire FOX Sept. 29 3.7 4.73
Empire FOX April 20 3.7 4.71
Game of Thrones HBO May 8 3.7 4.7
Talking Dead AMC Oct. 23 3.7 4.7
Empire FOX May 11 3.7 4.69
Game of Thrones HBO May 1 3.7 4.66

Note: Nielsen revised its universe estimates prior to the start of the 2016-17 season, which accounts for any situation where a show with a lower 18-49 rating may have more viewers in the demographic than one with a slightly higher rating.

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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