There’s nothing like coming home after a long day and relaxing with some delicious takeout and your favorite TV shows. And thanks to Nielsen, a television ratings and consumer market research firm, we can tell you which shows were the most popular. According to their stats, these were the 10 most-watched TV shows in the United States in 2018.
10. Bull (CBS) – 13.5 million viewers
Bull debuted in 2016 as a sophisticated law drama, but lead actor Michael Weatherly might look familiar if you’re a long-time NCIS fan (formerly holding the role of Anthony DiNozzo). The show centers around a trial jury consulting firm with Weatherly’s character, Dr. Jason Bull, offering psychological profiles of potential jurors and argument strategy tips for cases. 2018 was Bull’s second season, and the show is currently wrapping up its third.
9. America’s Got Talent (NBC) – 14.3 million viewers
Everyone loves a talent show, especially when the stakes are as high as they are with America’s Got Talent. The NBC amateur talent competition is part of the larger "Got Talent" franchise launched by entertainment executive Simon Cowell. Identical shows air in countries around the world and follow the same format. An all-star judging panel reviews contestants through numerous rounds of performances. Finalists in the American version vie for the ultimate prize—a large cash sum and the opportunity to perform on the Las Vegas Strip.
8. The Good Doctor (ABC) – 14.5 million viewers
This show premiered in 2017 in the U.S. but is based on a show with the same name that aired in South Korea in 2013. Daniel Dae Kim (from Lost and Hawaii Five-O) bought the rights to the original South Korean drama and brought it stateside for production through his own company. The Good Doctor follows the story of an autistic surgeon with savant syndrome, played by Freddie Highmore. While he struggles with interpersonal relationships with patients and colleagues, his brilliant medical capabilities make him an essential member of San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital’s medical team.
7. Manifest (NBC) – 14.6 million viewers
What if a time shift made a plane disappear? Manifest is a fairly new NBC supernatural drama that explores the spooky concept of a brief moment of turbulence that creates a time shift, which in turn causes passengers and crew to somehow miss out on five and a half years of their lives. Meanwhile, in the normal timeline, their plane was considered lost at sea. No one can explain this time shift or the supernatural events that happen after they land. “Manifest” debuted in 2018 to strong ratings in the first half of the season.
6. Young Sheldon (CBS) – 15.7 million viewers
If Sheldon is your favorite character on The Big Bang Theory, then Young Sheldon might be a fun treat. The spinoff show focuses on Sheldon Cooper’s childhood and helps to explain why his character is so... quirky. The show debuted in 2017 and has been a favorite for the CBS network, airing directly after The Big Bang Theory. It has only shot two seasons, but CBS approved it for a total of four to air through 2020.
5. This Is Us (NBC) – 16.6 million viewers
Life is complicated, and This Is Us takes an unvarnished look at the life of the Pearson family. Each episode typically presents a dual storyline that relies heavily on flashbacks to provide context for the characters’ present-day behaviors. Even though “This Is Us” sits only at the middle of this list for viewership, it’s a cult favorite and highly influential in pop culture: The now infamous Crock-Pot disaster episode caused the appliance maker to issue statements defending the safety of its products.
4. NCIS (CBS) – 16.7 million viewers
NCIS may not be the first in the crime forensics genre, but it’s earned the distinction as the second longest-running, non-animated scripted U.S. primetime TV series behind Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. NCIS debuted all the way back in 2003 and is now in its 24th season. If you love military shows, you might be surprised to learn that NCIS is a spinoff of JAG (1997-2005) and even launched its own spinoffs, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans.
3. The Big Bang Theory (CBS) – 18.3 million viewers
If you’ve ever considered yourself a nerd then The Big Bang Theory is your vindication. The sitcom follows four brilliant yet socially awkward scientists, two of whom eventually marry women considered out of their league. The show debuted in 2007 and is completing its 12th and final season this spring.
2. Sunday Night Football (NBC) – 19.5 million viewers
Football is a huge American pastime, so you shouldn’t be surprised that the weekly matchup of AFC and NFC teams continue to bring in ratings. The weekly Sunday Night Football matchup held its own as the second-most-watched serial event on U.S. television last year.
1. Roseanne (ABC) – 20 million viewers
The Roseanne reboot was the most watched show of 2018. After originally going off the air in 1997 at the close of its ninth season, the show came back in 2018 to follow the Conner family once again. Creative leaps were taken to bring the character of Dan (John Goodman) back to life. The show was so well-received that even after troublesome behavior by star Roseanne Barr, her character was written off and the show renamed as The Conners. That spin-off debuted on ABC on October 16, 2018.