2018 was another fantastic year for TV, so we're taking a look at the most-watched TV shows of the year. With new seasons of prestige shows like The Handmaid's Tale and Atlanta, quirky comedies like The Good Place and Big Mouth, and brand new series like Sharp Objects and The Haunting of Hill House, audiences have truly been spoiled for choice this year - but which shows were the heaviest hitters in terms of pure audience numbers?
Since streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are not monitored by Nielsen and are generally very protective of viewership stats for their TV shows, this list will only include shows that aired on traditional TV networks. It's also naturally dominated by broadcast TV shows, since cable viewers represent a smaller slice of the audience and therefore cable shows almost always have lower ratings. So, don't be too disappointed if your favorite TV show didn't make the list.
Related: The Best New TV Shows Of 2018
Without further ado, here are the most-watched TV shows of 2018 based on the average number of viewers per episode, according to Nielsen's summary of the year.
- This Page: 10-6 Most-Watched TV Shows of 2018
- Page 2: Top 5 Most-Watched TV Shows of 2018
10. Bull - CBS - 13,511,000 Viewers
With an average of 13.5 million viewers per episode, legal drama Bull has definitely built up a big audience since it debuted on CBS in 2016. Bull stars Michael Weatherly as Dr. Jason Bull, the head of a jury trial consulting firm called Trial Analysis Corporation, which uses technology and psychology to help legal teams prepare for whatever line-up of jurors, attorneys, and witnesses they might face. Bull was recently hit with a scandal when it emerged that CBS had paid a $9.5 million settlement to actress Eliza Dushku, who was fired after complaining about on-set sexual harassment from Weatherly. It remains to be seen whether this bad press will have an impact on the future of the show, which has not yet been renewed for season 4.
9. America's Got Talent - NBC - 14,273,000 Viewers
This year once again saw fierce competition for the top spot in season 13 of America's Got Talent, which averaged 14.2 million viewers per episode during the Tuesday night live shows. This year's winner was 27 year-old magician Shin Lim, who specializes in card tricks and whose signature move involves seemingly conjuring smoke from thin air. Next month Lim will return, along with 49 other contestants around the world, to compete for the ultimate title in spin-off series America's Got Talent: The Champions. The returning judges are Simon Cowell, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel, while Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Terry Crews will take over Tyra Banks' seat.
8. The Good Doctor - ABC - 14,517,000
If 15 seasons of ER and another 15 seasons of Grey's Anatomy taught us anything, it's that people really love a good medical drama - and in 2018, audiences loved The Good Doctor to the tune of 14.5 million viewers per episode. Currently in its second season, The Good Doctor stars Freddie Highmore as a young autistic syndrome who has savant syndrome, allowing him to make incredible diagnoses. The show's ratings are down from its first season, which placed it as the #3 most-watched TV show of 2017, but any placement in the top 10 is not to be sniffed at and we fully expect The Good Doctor to be renewed for a third season.
7. Manifest - NBC - 14,622,000 Viewers
In this brand new sci-fi series Manifest, which has already drawn comparisons to shows like Lost, a group of passengers experience strange turbulence while on a flight from Jamaica to New York City, and when they land they discover that more than five years have passed. Their friends and family have long assumed that they died in a plane crash, and the world has moved on. In the weeks following their return, the passengers begin to experience weird occurrences and start to dig into the mystery of what happened to them - uncovering a conspiracy behind the five years that they lost. Manifest has not yet been renewed for a second season, but will return for the second half of season 1 in 2019.
6. Young Sheldon - CBS - 15,668,000
Young Sheldon may be, well, young, but this spinoff series is already creeping up on its big brother, The Big Bang Theory, with an average of 15.6 million viewers in 2018. The TV show explores the childhood of Big Bang Theory's neurotic theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper, and this month Young Sheldon star Iain Armitage appeared in a crossover episode of the parent series. With The Big Bang Theory coming to an end with its twelfth season, Young Sheldon will continue the story in prequel form - and perhaps even go on to feature cameos from the Big Bang cast. The second half of Young Sheldon season 2 will begin on January 10, 2019.