Fans are living in a Golden Age of Television, with incredible options across every network catering to every fans tastes. Of course, with so many incredible options the conversation eventually turns to one important question: what is the most popular show on TV? As much as I'd like to answer it with my personal favorite show, there are many factors that go into answering such a tricky question.
Game Of Thrones is one of TV's best shows. Take an inside look at its VFX:
Of course, you can look at ratings to get a sense of what shows are successes, but you have to look at more than just the number of people who watch during an episode's broadcast. You need to consider viewers from On Demand services, reviews from critics, fan reactions and more. So today, I'm going to do everyone a favor by conducting a lot of research and using some statistics to determine what show is the most popular on TV today.
Game of Thrones
- Network: HBO
- Number of Seasons: 6 — Season 7 on the way for Summer 2017
- Average Viewers Per Episode: 25.1 million
HBO's fantasy epic Game Of Thrones is certainly one of the buzziest shows on television, with epic drama and fantastic action that have helped it become the most successful drama in Emmy Awards history. But has that critical adoration translated into a massive audience?
Well, if you looked at its broadcast views alone the answer wouldn't be so conclusive. Game of Thrones only averaged 12.2 million viewers on cable, though those ratings climb to an average of 25.1 million per episode when you take into account people who watch On Demand, on DVR and through the HBO Go streaming app.
Take an inside look at GoT's epic "Battle Of The Bastards" below:
As for reviews, the sixth season of the fantasy series earned some of its best yet, proving that with its sweeping success at this year's Emmys. HBO has confirmed that Season 7 will have a shorter run, with Season 8 set as the show's last. The fanbase is already gigantic, and the fervor behind GoT could even drive up numbers in the final two seasons. As we all know, nearly every episode of Game Of Thrones has a massive event that gets fans and critics talking the next day.
The Big Bang Theory
- Network: CBS
- Number Of Seasons: 10 — Season 10 currently airing
- Average Viewers Per Episode: 20.4 million views (Season 9)
The Big Bang Theory might not be the coolest show on TV, but it has remained one of the most popular for 10 years. This series is currently in its tenth season and has become the most popular comedy show on television. A lot of people just want to sit down and have a laugh or two and The Big Bang Theory is perfect for that. The comedy averaged a whopping 20.4 million viewers last season.
However, the season premiere that aired last week dropped 15 percent in viewers as the episode had a total 15.4 million viewers. Chances are an eleventh season won't be happening if ratings keep this low as the actors are becoming more and more expensive to keep. Members of the main cast command over $5 million per episode, which might not be worth it if ratings fall.
The Big Bang Theory has never fared great with critics, but that hasn't stopped fans from flocking to the show's fun take on nerd culture. Comedies tend to have a tougher time with critics anyway, but it looks like fans might be getting tired of this one. Today's Big Bang definitely isn't as great as it used to be, and while many people including myself love the show, we don't stay up and watch every episode when it airs.
The Walking Dead
- Network: AMC
- Number Of Seasons: 6 — Season 7 starts on October 23, 2016
- Average Viewers Per Episode: 27.5 million views
The Walking Dead proved that horror could work on TV when it premiered back in 2010, and alongside Mad Men and Breaking Bad made AMC a destination network for fans of prestige television. In its sixth season, The Walking Dead averaged around 24.8 million total viewers per episode on the network, with an additional 2.7 million views across digital platforms. That brings The Walking Dead to a whopping 27.5 million viewers per episode. And considering the insane cliffhanger we saw at the end of Season 6, the Season 7 premiere could surpass those numbers.
Here's why we think The Walking Dead is the best show on TV:
Season 6 of The Walking Dead earned solid reviews, though it faced some complaints for its occasionally plodding plot. I just binged the series over the summer and I was tempted to skip over a few Season 6 episodes because they were so boring. But the second half of the season was more exciting, ending the season on strong note even if the cliffhanger pissed off some fans.
Following the show's epic Season 6 finale, many people just like myself have caught up on the zombie show and are ready for next season's action. The show has a lot more life in it moving forward, and could definitely continue to grow moving forward.
Read up more on TV's most popular series:
- The Walking Dead Season 7: Get Ready For The Walking Dead's Season Premiere With Our Season 6 Recap
- The Game Of Thrones Casting Calls For Season 7 Are Out, And They Are Full Of Spoilers
- Jim Parsons Is Officially The Highest Paid TV Actor In the World
- Network: Fox
- Number Of Seasons: 3 — Season 3 currently airing
- Average Viewers Per Episode: 16.2 million views (Season 2)
Fox's hip-hop drama Empire has proved a surprising win for the network, bringing a welcome shot of diversity to the world of network dramas to become one of TV's most buzz-worthy shows. The series, which is currently in its third season, premiered this past week and its series premiere only pulled in 10.8 million viewers, which is a 39 percent drop versus last year's season premiere. The show averaged a 16.2 million views last season.
Empire is a hot show still fairly early in its run, and overall its reviews are solid. Fans can't seem to get enough of this melodrama, and it brings something new and different to the TV landscape. The show gets a lot of traction on social media, and while it has a strong fanbase now it could grow moving forward.
- Network: ABC
- Number Of Seasons: 8 — Season 8 currently airing
- Total Viewers per Episode: 12.1 million (Season 7)
Modern Family is one of the most popular shows on the ABC, and has been a perennial favorite when it comes to awards season. So, you'd think the show would rank pretty high when it comes to viewers. While it was in the Top 50 performing shows of the 2015-2016 season, it doesn't rank at the very top of the list. And it doesn't help that the recent Season 8 premiere only brought in 8.23 million viewers during it's broadcast.
After so many seasons, could the show be losing its popularity? The show has had positive reviews from critics and viewers alike for its inclusive family values, which it will continue by featuring the first openly transgender child actor in an upcoming episode. But critical love alongside solid ratings may make this one seems a bit more popular than it actually is.
What is the Most Popular Show on TV?
Like most of you probably expected, the competition has narrowed down to The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. The shows might not be to everyone's tastes, but they have the ratings and critical love to trounce more accessible offerings like Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory, and adored-but-niche programs like Empire. So, which one reigns supreme?
Game of Thrones hasn't had a real slump in terms of quality across its six seasons, while some have complained that The Walking Dead has had a few missteps during its run. Many fans like to complain about the second season on the farm or the faltering first half of Season 6, but in the end, The Walking Dead has managed to be just as much of a pop culture phenomena as GoT.
Take a look at The Walking Dead's zombies below:
Even though The Walking Dead annoyed many with its Season 6 cliffhanger, the dramatic ending has built tons of hype for Season 7. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Season 7 premiere shatter TV ratings records, and while the return of Game Of Thrones will no doubt be popular it will be tough for the show to deliver like it's done in the past. With two seasons left, GoT might not be able to draw in new viewers, because potential audiences know the end is near. Meanwhile, there's no end in sight for TWD, increasing its chances to rise in popularity as the years go on.
The Walking Dead Reigns Supreme!
While this may come as a surprise to some, it should pretty obvious to a lot of people. The Walking Dead is a huge part of pop culture and it's not slowing down anytime soon. Not only does the show do get significantly better ratings than its competitors, but it has a bright future that will help draw even more fans to the series. The combination of ratings success, critical love and a growing fanbase help make The Walking Dead the most popular show on TV.
You can catch The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere on October 23. What's your favorite TV show? Let us know in the comments below.