What are the most popular network TV shows of 2014? Before we get into the fact that two comedies managed to top that list, which is particularly impressive in an era where network TV comedies aren't exactly thriving on the whole, let's define "popular," because this list has some very specific terms set to it.
THR listed the ten "highest-rated broadcast series of 2014," noting that they've ranked this "by their current season averages in live-plus-7 ratings in the key demographic of adults 18-49," according to Nielsen Media. They factored in online, on demand and DVR numbers as well. Excluded are sports and reality TV programming, which THR notes are different beasts. And just to be clear, this is broadcast television (so no cable or basic cable.)
And just for some frame of reference, we added in the average Live-plus-Same Day viewership based the listed viewership for episodes that aired during the Fall 2014 season.
1. The Big Bang TheoryAirs: Thursday at 8:00 p.m. on CBS.
Average Live + Same Day viewership for the Fall 2014 season: 16.33 million viewers.
2. Modern FamilyAirs: Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. on ABC.
Average Live + SD for the Fall 2014 season:10.1 million viewers.
3. How To Get Away With MurderAirs: Thursday at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.
Average Live + SD for the Fall 2014 season: 10.4 million viewers.
4. ScandalAirs: Thursday at 9:00 p.m. on ABC.
Average Live + SD for the Fall 2014 season: 10.08 million viewers.
5. The BlacklistAirs: Monday at 10:00 p.m. on NBC.
Average Live + SD for the Fall 2014 season: 10.06 million viewers.
6. GothamAirs: Monday at 8:00 p.m. on Fox.
Average Live + SD for the Fall 2014 season: 6.6 million viewers.
7. Family GuyAirs: Sunday at 9:00 p.m. on Fox.
Average Live + SD for the Fall 2014 season: 4.87 million viewers.
8. Grey's AnatomyAirs: Thursday at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.
Average Live + SD for the Fall 2014 season: 8.61 million viewers.
9. Criminal MindsAirs: Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. on CBS.
Average Live + SD for the Fall 2014 season: 10.51 million viewers.
10. ScorpionAirs: Monday at 9:00 p.m. on CBS.
Average Live + SD for the Fall 2014 season: 10.99 million viewers.
It's interesting to look at the average Live+SD viewer numbers as it relates to the shows' rankings. Criminal Minds and Scorpion are bringing in much higher viewers among those who tune in live or within a day of the episode airing than Fox's Family Guy and Gotham, but the latter series' higher rankings suggest a substantially higher number of people are getting caught up later, and fall into that 18-49 demo. And if advertisers really are paying closer attention to DVR statistics and time-shifting, then shows like Gotham likely have a better chance of sticking around than they might otherwise.
It's also interesting to note that, though new network TV comedies seem to be stumbling out the gate, veterans The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family are clearly winning the overall race for scripted broadcast television. Shonda Rhimes' three-hour Thursday night block of dramas is also a big winner here, as all three shows are on this list. Points to ABC for figuring out a formula to dominate Thursday nights. How To Get Away With Murder isn't the only new series to make the list. Scorpion also managed to secure a spot there.
Not on the list is NCIS, which is currently averaging more than 17 million viewers Live + Same Day. But perhaps a significant number of those viewers fall outside the 18-49 demo. Between that and the factored in DVR and On Demand viewers, NCIS may not be make this particular list. But if more than 17 million people are tuning in every week to watch it, it's clearly doing ok.