The end of the 2021 TV season is nigh as the new year approaches, and primetime has been competitive throughout the fall. Medical dramas are always hot commodities, with NBC’s Chicago Med and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy ranking among the biggest shows on television. And the rest of the medical dramas of the fall have held their own as well, and there are some surprises with how they rank against each other in the ratings and audience size. So, as the final weeks of 2021 wind down, let’s look at how the biggest medical dramas compare to each other.
There are currently five notable medical dramas on the air between ABC, Fox, and NBC, although CBS will be adding an entry with Good Sam in the new year. Let’s take a look at the average numbers for those five series so far in the 2021-2022 TV season (courtesy of SpoilerTV), in the Live+Same day totals for the viewers in the valuable 18-49 age demographic. We’ll start with the medical drama that comes in fifth!
5. New Amsterdam/NBC
New Amsterdam is currently the newest of the medical dramas in primetime, although it’s halfway through its fourth season by this point. The show has inspired a loyal and passionate fandom that has been on board for an intense fourth season that delivered several cliffhangers in the winter finale, but it still has the lowest ratings by a significant enough amount that I place it fifth, despite beating #4 in the size of the audience. Take a look:
- Average rating for 2021-2022: 0.37
- Average viewership for 2021-2022: 3.28 million
Those certainly aren’t bad numbers, and NBC doesn’t seem to have reason for concern that the show is losing its appeal to fans. And in fact, New Amsterdam ranks among the current TV shows that receive big bumps in delayed viewership, with the number of people who watch within three and seven days after the initial airing. So New Amsterdam comes in fifth with 0.37 and 3.28 million in Live+Same, but it’s doing well enough.
4. The Resident/Fox
Interestingly, the third- and fourth-ranked medical dramas are pretty close to each other in the numbers, with one getting higher ratings and the other getting a larger audience. The Resident with the high-stakes Season 5 is actually the show with the higher ratings, which is an accomplishment for Fox’s sole medical drama, but a smaller audience. Take a look at the average numbers, and then read on for why I ranked it fourth despite the ratings win:
- Average rating for 2021-2022: 0.46
- Average viewership for 2021-2022: 3.08 million
The Resident’s 3.08 million is actually smaller than both New Amsterdam’s average and the average for #3 below, but the significantly higher ratings place it in fourth rather than fifth. And I placed it as fourth rather than third after I turned to another set up numbers to break what was more or less a tie: the Live+7 numbers.
Live+7 totals account for all the viewers who watched live and over the week after. I turned to the Live+7 numbers available for the most recent week when both shows aired new episodes, and here’s how The Resident did in the week of November 15 (via SpoilerTV):
- Live+7 ratings: 0.7
- Live+7 viewership: 4.8 million
The Resident got a healthy boost in both categories to prove why it counts as a hit for Fox with live and delayed viewers, but still not enough for me to give it the #3 ranking. That spot goes to an ABC show!
3. The Good Doctor/ABC
The Good Doctor is also in its fifth season, and wrapped for the fall with a game-changing midseason finale that will leave fans waiting on edge for answers for however long the hiatus lasts. It also did well enough in the ratings to win the spot smack dab in the middle of the five shows, although not without consulting some extra numbers to pit it against The Resident. First, though, take a look at the average totals:
- Average rating for 2021-2022: 0.42
- Average viewership for 2021-2022: 3.87
This show is behind The Resident in the Live+Same ratings on average, but ahead in the size of the audience. While the difference between them was relatively slim in the initial numbers, the Live+7 delayed numbers tell a different story with a happy ending for the Freddie Highmore-starring medical drama for the week of November 15:
- Live+7 ratings: 0.8
- Live+7 viewership: 7 million
The Good Doctor doesn’t edge The Resident out by much in Live+7 ratings with its 0.8 over the Fox show’s 0.7, but pulls easily ahead with the 7 million vs. The Resident’s 4.8 million. So, the ABC show comes in third, which brings us to the biggest two medical dramas of the 2021-2022 TV season so far: the long-running Grey’s Anatomy vs. One Chicago’s medical drama. Here’s the series that gets #2!
2. Grey's Anatomy/ABC
Believe it or not, the average totals between Grey’s Anatomy and Chicago Med put the iconic ABC show in second place in Live+Same calculations. It still quite easily beats the lower three shows in this ranking, and turns in the kinds of numbers that many other primetime shows would probably love to have, especially considering how long Grey’s has been on.
- Average rating for 2021-2022: 0.66
- Average viewership for 2021-2022: 4.28 million
Grey’s actually isn’t that much higher than The Good Doctor in Live+Same audience size, but beats it by more than half in the ratings with 0.66 vs. 0.42. Considering that the show is in its eighteenth season and nearly out of original series regulars, Grey’s Anatomy is more than holding its own, and it’s no surprise that ABC keeps on renewing it while Ellen Pompeo is on board to play the titular Grey.
And this of course brings us to…
1. Chicago Med/NBC
One Chicago wins when it comes to medical dramas in Live+Same! And in fact, it’s not even close, to the extent that even I was surprised, and I make a habit of keeping an eye on primetime ratings. Chicago Med has had a pretty long run already with its seventh season currently airing, but that’s not even half of how long Grey’s has been airing. And Med is easily winning the medical drama race:
- Average rating for 2021-2022: 0.76
- Average viewership for 2021-2022: 6.77 million
Chicago Med is 0.1 ahead of Grey’s Anatomy in the ratings, and with a larger audience by more than a million. It’s no surprise that Med is a major hit as part of NBC’s super successful One Chicago, but beating Grey’s with the live broadcast numbers is a bragging right and earns it the #1 spot among medical dramas.
Of course, there are some wild cards that could almost be considered among the medical dramas. Shows like Chicago Fire, 9-1-1, 9-1-1: Lone Star, and Station 19 all feature medical emergencies with paramedics performing procedures and saving lives in the field, but I left them out of this ranking to let the traditional medical dramas compare to each other.
Interestingly, none of these five shows actually compete in the same time slot. In fact, New Amsterdam and The Resident are the only two that even air on the same night. This is a different story than what the big networks have going with their crime dramas, with CSI: Vegas going up against Chicago P.D. in the 10 p.m. slot on Wednesdays.
CBS is getting into the medical drama game early in 2022 with the premiere of Good Sam, starring Sophia Bush (formerly of Chicago P.D.) and Jason Isaacs, so we may want to look at the medical show numbers again after Good Sam has a few weeks to turn in numbers. For when to expect these series and more to premiere in the new year, be sure to check out our 2022 winter and spring premiere schedule.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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