The following content contains the tentative list of the most watched television broadcasts around the world in selected countries, with the corresponding peak viewership (or ratings share) records, the corresponding year of such broadcast, and the mentioned media research organizations tallying nationwide viewership records. However, the most watched television broadcast in any of the following nations can also be broadcast simultaneously in other countries and rank among their most watched television broadcasts as well.
On 20 July 1969, an estimated 530 million people watched the live global broadcast of the Apollo 11 moonlanding (this constituted around 14% of total population of the world at the time), despite the fact that the first moonwalk took place in the middle of the night in Europe (at 02:56 in Ireland, Portugal and the United Kingdom and 03:56 in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain) and it was not broadcast in the Eastern Bloc (except in Romania  and Poland). In 2010, 1.1 billion people were reported to have watched the 2010-2011 Sydney New Year's Eve coverage, constituting approximately 16% of the world population at that time and still remains the most watched New Year's Eve live telecast in the world. As one of the first major New Year's celebrations globally each year, Sydney New Year's Eve annual coverage are live in all time zones in both Asia, Australia and Oceania on December 31, 2010.
U.S. television programming remains one of the most popular forms of entertainment worldwide. This trend was initiated by U.S.-made soap operas and sitcoms such as Dallas, M*A*S*H, The Cosby Show, Seinfeld, Friends and The Big Bang Theory by the mid-2000s, and then in the late 2000s and 2010s by U.S. medical dramas and police procedurals such as House, and the CSI and NCIS franchises. All of these are currently syndicated in more than 100 countries, reaching almost one billion viewers around the world, and rank among the most watched television series in the world, extending their dominance to a three-decade span. In recent decades, the global dominance of U.S. television is rivaled by European television programming and television dramas from Latin America and Asia. The annual Eurovision Song Contest, considered to be one of the world's longest running and most watched reality television franchises, annually attracts a peak of 600 million viewers.
Few cable television programs have ranked among the world's most watched television broadcasts beginning the mid-2010s. In particular, notable scripted series like Game of Thrones, Sherlock and Doctor Who, originating from both the U.S. and U.K., have been currently aired to more than 100 countries, reaching more than 1.5 billion viewers worldwide. The annual Miss Universe and Miss World pageants, headquartered in the U.S. and U.K., respectively, and aired live to more than 200 countries yearly, are said to have each regularly attracted more than two billion viewers and consistently ranks among the most watched live annual entertainment telecasts in the world.
Prominent personalities in the 1990s and 2000s such as David Hasselhoff and Mexico's Thalia (currently based in the U.S.) starred in primetime series such as the Las Tres Marias trilogy shows (Maria Mercedes, Marimar and Maria la del Barrio), Rosalinda and Baywatch, which were broadcast to almost two billion viewers in about 180 countries and still remained among the world's most watched non-U.S.-produced television series. Idols, airing since 2001, has the largest collective global franchise viewership in the world to date, shown in versions in over 150 countries worldwide and watched by an estimated 6.5 billion viewers.
Regional sporting events like the Super Bowl in the U.S., and the UEFA Champions League finals in Europe, televised live worldwide, have emerged among the world's most watched television broadcasts, regularly attracting more than 1 billion viewers across seven continents. The 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony holds the record for the largest viewing figure for any sports event, reaching an average daily audience of 593 million worldwide,. More than 5 billion people saw some part of the 16-day coverage, including the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing-hosted Olympic games. The FIFA World Cup  has attracted an average of 3.2 billion viewers in 2010 and 2014, making it the most watched overall live event by average on television worldwide in the 21st century.
Most reality television franchises broadcasts and international sporting events (which are aired in several countries) tend to comprise some of the most watched television programs, as tallied by their media research bases. Beginning the mid-2010s, the majority of the world's most watched television broadcasts, including all of the world's major international sporting events, are often broadcast live via satellite across virtually all of the world's time zones in seven continents.
The Best Of ABBA 1976 is the highest rating show ever on Australian television to date. Newspapers reported that it had out-rated the moon landing of July 1969. It went on to be repeated many times, also to high ratings, and was followed by an edited half hour format. The following is David Dale's approximate ranking of the most watched television shows of all time in Australia using data from Nielsen Corporation and OzTAM
|1||Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales||1997||ABC, Seven Network, Nine Network, Ten Network|
|2||Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer||1981||ABC, Seven Network, Nine Network, Ten Network|
|3||2000 Summer Olympics closing ceremony||2000||Seven Network|
|4||2000 Summer Olympics opening ceremony||2000||Seven Network|
|5||Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton||2011||ABC, Seven Network, Nine Network, Ten Network|
|6||1984 Summer Olympics opening ceremony||1984||Ten Network|
|7||The World of The Seekers||1968||Ten Network|
|8||Boxing: Lionel Rose v Alan Rudkin||1964||Seven Network|
|9||The Sound of Music||1977||Nine Network|
|10||Roots (miniseries)||1977||Ten Network|
Note: the funeral of Princess Diana, the Wedding of Prince Charles and the Wedding of Prince William were all carried by all 4 major networks and are counted together.
The following table is a list of the most viewed programmes based on the OzTAM 5 City Metro Average rating system. It does not include regional numbers (40% of the population) and uses the average viewership, not the peak viewership. Also note these ratings are not comparable with ratings before 2001 due to different methodologies used after this time.
|Rank||Show||Number of viewers||Ratings||Year||Network|
|1||2011 British Royal Wedding||6.0 Million||–||2011||ABC, Network 7, Network 9, Network Ten, 7Two|
|2||2005 Australian Open – Men's Singles Final||4.043 Million||29.3||2005||Seven Network|
|3||MasterChef Australia (season 2) – finale challenge||4.029 Million||27.1||2010||Network Ten|
|4||2003 Rugby World Cup Final||4.016 Million||29.7||2003||Seven Network|
|5||MasterChef Australia (season 1) – finale challenge||3.726 Million||25.6||2009||Network Ten|
|6||2006 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony||3.561 Million||25.5||2006||Nine Network|
|7||2005 AFL Grand Final (Sydney Swans v West Coast Eagles)||3.386 Million||24.5||2005||Network Ten|
|8||The Block (season 4): Winner Announced||3.370 Million||21.9||2011||Nine Network|
|9||Australian Idol: Final Verdict||3.344 Million||24.5||2002||Network Ten|
|10||The Voice: Grand Final 2012||3.238 Million||21.2||2012||Nine Network|
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (February 2018)
|1||Roque Santeiro||Episode 209||
||100%||22 February 1986||Rede Globo|
|2||Atletico Nacional X Gremio||Copa Libertadores – Final||
||96% (projection)||30 August 1995||Rede Globo|
||—||31 March 1990||Rede Globo|
India measures shows through TRP (Television Rating Point). Shows had higher ratings in 2000s versus now. The only show now that scores above just the 3.3 mark is Kumkum Bhagya, and its spin off Kundali Bhagya - ironically 2.5-3.5 TRP was considered an average in the 2000s era of serials. The most watched channel for years has been Star Plus , then Zee TV with major competition from Colors. The 1988 TV version of Indian Epic Mahabharata had a share of 97.8% among Indian viewers.
|1||[IPL 2016 RCB vsSRH||44.68||Star Plus|
|2||Kasautii Zindagii Kay||35.31||Star Plus|
|3||Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi||22.1||Star Plus|
|4||Hum Paanch||13.5||Zee TV|
|5||Koshish Ek Aashaa||11.15||Zee TV|
|7||Des Mein Niklla Hoga Chand||10.0||Star Plus|
|8||Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin||9.2||Sony TV India|
|9||Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai||8.4||Star Plus|
|10||Diya Aur Baati Hum||7.7||Star Plus|
The two most watched television broadcasts in Canadian history occurred during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. For the gold medal game of the men's hockey tournament at the 2010 Winter Olympics, played between the United States and Canada, confirmed 16.6 million Canadians watched the whole game, roughly one-half of the country's entire population. A groundbreaking 26.5 million Canadians watched some part of the game, over 80 percent of the country's 34-million-person population. According to multiple sources, 13.3 million Canadians watched the games' opening ceremony, which was the previous record.
Many believed the final game of the 1972 Summit Series had up to 18 million viewers, but this was not so; only 4.3 million people watched it. This statistic does not represent the reality that most school children (representing the tail end of the baby-boom i.e. a large population) nationwide watched the game in gymnasiums on only one or two TVs. 10.3 million people watched the ice hockey gold medal final of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The CCTV's main evening news broadcast Xinwen Lianbo has a daily audience of around 135 million people, and it is also one of the most expensive shows in the world per advertising spots, with its 2013 advertising slots selling for a record of 5.4 billion yuan.
|Rank||Show||Episode||Number of viewers||Share||Date||Network|
|1||2014 FIFA World Cup||Germany vs Argentina (final)||34,650,000||86.3%||13 July 2014||Das Erste|
|2||2014 FIFA World Cup||Brazil vs Germany (semi-final)||32,570,000||87.8%||8 July 2014||ZDF|
|3||2010 FIFA World Cup||Germany vs Spain (semi-final)||31,100,000 1, 4||83.2%||7 July 2010||Das Erste|
|4||UEFA Euro 2016||Germany vs France (semi-final)||29,820,000||80.6%||7 July 2016||ZDF|
|5||2006 FIFA World Cup||Germany vs Italy (semi-final)||29,660,000 1, 2, 3||84.1%||4 July 2006||ZDF|
|6||UEFA Euro 2008||Germany vs Turkey (semi-final)||29,460,000||81.6%||25 June 2008||ZDF|
|7||2010 FIFA World Cup||Ghana vs. Germany (group game)||29,190,000 1, 4||79.7%||23 June 2010||Das Erste|
|8||1990 FIFA World Cup||West Germany vs Argentina (final)||28,660,000||87.9%||9 July 1990||Das Erste|
|9||UEFA Euro 1996||Germany vs Czech Republic (final)||28,440,000||76.3%||30 June 1996||ZDF|
|10||UEFA Euro 2016||Germany vs Italy (quarter-final)||28,320,000||79.8%||2 July 2016||Das Erste|
|11||2014 FIFA World Cup||Germany vs Algeria (Round of 16)||28,210,000||85.1%||30 June 2014||ZDF|
|12||UEFA Euro 2016||Germany vs Slovakia (Round of 16)||28,110,000||81.2%||26 June 2014||ZDF|
|13||UEFA Euro 2008||Austria vs Germany (group game)||28,040,000 1, 5||76.9%||16 June 2008||ZDF|
|14||UEFA Euro 2012||Germany vs Italy (semi-final)||27,980,000 6||76.8%||28 June 2012||Das Erste|
|15||The Black Forest Clinic||"Die Schuldfrage" ("The question of guilt")||27,970,000||17 November 1985||ZDF|
|16||2010 FIFA World Cup||Germany vs Australia (group game)||27,910,000 1, 4||74.4%||13 June 2010||Das Erste|
|17||UEFA Euro 2008||Portugal vs Germany (quarter-final)||27,700,000 1, 5||78.7%||19 June 2008||Das Erste|
|18||UEFA Euro 2012||Denmark vs Germany (group game)||27,650,000||74.2%||13 June 2012||ZDF|
|19||UEFA Euro 2016||Germany vs Poland (group game)||27,320,000||73.3%||16 June 2016||ZDF|
|20||2014 FIFA World Cup||USA vs Germany (group game)||27,250,000||84.2%||26 June 2014||ZDF|
Note: The UEFA Euro 2008 final is missing from the list, because the lengthy trophy presentation was included into the official ratings. The game itself was watched by 28.05 million viewers.
A list of most watched shows in the Republic of Ireland in the 21st century was released in January 2015. The Late Late Toy Show held the top six spots, with the 2014 edition drawing 1,593,000 viewers: over one-third of the country's population. Other high-performing shows were Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, crime drama Love/Hate, Mrs. Brown's Boys, The Sunday Game, UEFA Euro 2012 and the Eurovision Song Contest.
The following list is for Japanese anime only.
|1||Chibi Maruko-chan||39.9%||28 October 1990||Fuji TV|
|2||Sazae-san||39.4%||16 September 1979||Fuji TV|
|3||Dr. Slump||36.9%||16 December 1981||Fuji TV|
|4||Dokonjō Gaeru||34.5%||23 February 1979||NTV|
|5||Japanese Folklore Tales 2||33.6%||10 January 1981||TBS|
|6||Lupin the Third||32.5%||8 December 1978||NTV|
|7||Touch||31.9%||22 December 1985||Fuji TV|
|8||Ashita no Joe||31.6%||13 March 1980||NTV|
|9||Doraemon||31.2%||11 February 1983||TV Asahi|
|10||GeGeGe no Kitarō||29.6%||22 March 1986||Fuji TV|
A list of most watched shows in the Mexico, Televisa and TV Azteca broadcasters (Liga MX Apertura and Clausura), Boxing, 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, (FIFA World Cup hosts 1970 & 1986), some concerts like Maná's Unidos por La Paz at Estadio Azteca in March, 2001, Funeral events like Chespirito at December, 2014 the creator of TV Series El Chavo del ocho and El Chapulin Colorado, and Celebration of Mexican political anniversaries in 2010 celebrate independence from Spain also called Bicentenario 2010, had an average audience of over 40 million views in Mexican Television.
In 2011, the television website Throng published a list of the 12 most watched television broadcasts in New Zealand from 1995 to 2011. This is based on average viewership of the program, but it does not include broadcasts from before 1995 or after 2011.
The Rugby World Cup has frequently had large audiences – the Rugby World Cup 2011 final, and a semi-final, both had an average audience of over 2 million.
|01||2011 Rugby World Cup Final (NZ v France)||2,036,900||23 October 2011||TV 1, TV 3, Prime, Sky Sports, Maori TV|
|02||2011 Rugby World Cup Semi-final (NZ v Australia)||2,024,000||16 October 2011||TV 1, TV 3, Prime, Sky Sports, Maori TV|
|03||2011 Rugby World Cup Opening Game (NZ v Tonga)||1,930,000||9 September 2011||TV 1, Prime, Sky Sports, Maori TV|
|04||Boxing: Lennox Lewis vs. David Tua World Title Defence||1,841,230||12 November 2000||TV 3|
|05||One News special – Death of Diana, Princess of Wales||1,703,310||31 August 1997||TV 1|
|06||2000 Summer Olympics opening ceremony||1,654,310||15 September 2000||TV 1|
|07||One News special – Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales||1,649,710||6 September 1997||TV 1|
|08||2011 Rugby World Cup Qtr Final (NZ v Argentina)||1,624,400||9 October 2011||TV 1, TV 3, Prime, Sky Sports, Maori TV|
|09||2003 Rugby World Cup Final (England v Australia)||1,604,800||22 November 2003||TV 1|
|10||Martin Bashir's interview with Diana, Princess of Wales||1,516,780||21 November 1995||TV 2|
|11||2011 Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony||1,499,160||9 September 2011||TV 1|
|12||2007 Rugby World Cup (NZ v France)||1,410,410||7 October 2007||TV 3|
The following table shows the all-time highest rating television shows in Mega Manila as tallied by AGB Nielsen since 1992. However, ratings are from a single highest recorded episode of the show (in the case of the TV series) and it is not the average over-all ratings for the whole season or series.
|1||ABS-CBN||Manny Pacquiao vs. Erik Morales||2005||83.5%|
|4||ABS-CBN||Pangako Sa 'Yo||2002||64.9%|
|6||ABS-CBN||Miss Universe 1994||1994||62.5%|
|9||RPN||Miss Universe 1999||1999||58.4%|
|11||ABS-CBN||Maalaala Mo Kaya||1992||57.3%|
|16||ABS-CBN||Magandang Gabi, Bayan||2000||55.0%|
|17||ABS-CBN||Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar Larios||2006||54.4%|
|19||ABS-CBN||Mula Sa Puso||1997||53.7%|
|20||RPN||Manny Pacquiao vs. Marco Antonio Barrera||2003||52.9%|
|Rank||Program||Date||Channel||Number of vievers||Share|
|1||Funeral of Pope John Paul II||8 April 2005||TVP1, TVP2, TVP3, Polsat, TVN, TVN24 and others||Over 21,400,000||Almost 90%|
|2||UEFA Euro 2016: Poland vs Portugal (quarter-final)||30 June 2016||TVP1, Polsat, Polsat Sport||15,974,822||86.57%|
|3||UEFA Euro 2012: Poland vs Russia (group stage)||12 June 2012||TVP1, TVP Sport, TVP HD||14,683,216||81.51%|
|4||UEFA Euro 2016: Germany vs Poland (group stage)||16 June 2016||TVP1, Polsat, Polsat Sport||14,352,012||80.89%|
|5||UEFA Euro 2012: Czech Republic vs Poland (group stage)||16 June 2012||TVP1, TVP Sport, TVP HD||14,070,492||81.28%|
|6||UEFA Euro 2012: Poland vs Greece (group stage)||8 June 2012||TVP1, TVP Sport, TVP HD||13,308,343||83.78%|
|7||2002 Winter Olympics: Ski Jumping Men's K120 Individual
(Adam Małysz's silver medal)
|13 February 2002||TVP1||13,259,612||75.15%|
|8||Funeral of President Lech Kaczyński and First Lady Maria Kaczyńska||18 April 2010||TVP1, TVP2, TVP Info, Polsat, Polsat News, TVN, TVN 24 and others||13,033,967||86.68%|
|9||UEFA Euro 2016: Ukraine vs Poland (group stage)||21 June 2016||TVP1, Polsat, Polsat Sport||12,639,308||81.67%|
|10||M jak miłość (episode 302)||1 March 2005||TVP2||12,581,000||n/d|
|1||UEFA Euro 2004||Portugal vs The Netherlands (semi-final)||40.9||87.2%||30 June 2004||RTP1|
|2||UEFA Euro 2012||Portugal vs Spain (semi-final)||39.5||76.0%||27 June 2012||SIC|
|3||UEFA Euro 2004||Portugal vs England (quarter-final)||39.0||85.1%||24 June 2004||RTP1|
|4||UEFA Euro 2016||Portugal vs Wales (semi-final)||38.4||75.4%||6 July 2016||RTP1|
|5||UEFA Euro 2016||Portugal vs France (final)||38.2||78.1%||10 July 2016||RTP1|
|6||UEFA Euro 2012||Portugal vs The Netherlands (group stage match)||38.1||73.4%||17 June 2012||TVI|
|7||UEFA Euro 2016||Portugal vs France (final)||38||78.2%||10 July 2016||RTP1|
|8||2014 FIFA World Cup||United States vs Portugal (group stage match)||37.8||75.4%||22 June 2014||RTP1|
|9||UEFA Euro 2004||Portugal vs Greece (final)||37.7||89.7%||4 July 2004||RTP1|
|10||UEFA Euro 2016||Poland vs Portugal (quarter-final)||37.4||69.9%||30 June 2016||RTP1|
|11||2006 FIFA World Cup||Portugal vs France (semi-final)||37.2||82.3%||5 July 2006||SIC|
|12||A Próxima Vítima||The Last Episode||37.1||80.2%||19 January 1996||SIC|
|13||UEFA Euro 2012||Czech Republic vs Portugal (quarter-final)||36.1||71.7%||21 June 2012||RTP1|
|14||UEFA Euro 2004||Russia vs Portugal (group stage match)||35.5||81.4%||16 June 2004||SIC|
|15||UEFA Euro 2016||Portugal vs Iceland (group stage match)||35.1||68.6%||14 June 2016||RTP1|
|16||UEFA Euro 2004||Spain vs Portugal (group stage match)||34.9||83.2%||20 June 2004||TVI|
|17||2006 FIFA World Cup||Portugal vs The Netherlands (round of 16)||34.9||80.7%||25 June 2006||SIC|
|18||UEFA Euro 2008||Portugal vs Germany (quarter-finals)||34.5||75.6%||19 June 2008||TVI|
|19||2015 Portuguese legislative election||Debate: António Costa vs. Pedro Passos Coelho||34.1||66%||10 September 2015||RTP1, SIC, TVI|
|20||2014 FIFA World Cup qualification||Sweden vs Portugal (second leg playoff match)||34.1||62.2%||19 November 2013||RTP1|
|21||UEFA Europa League||SL Benfica vs Chelsea FC (final)||33.8||62.3%||16 May 2013||SIC|
|22||UEFA Euro 2000||France vs. Portugal (Semi-finals)||33.2||76.7%||28 June 2000||RTP1|
|23||2006 FIFA World Cup||Angola vs Portugal (group stage match)||32.8||80.9%||11 June 2006||SIC|
|24||UEFA Euro 2012||Germany vs Portugal (group stage match)||32.4||68.3%||9 June 2012||RTP1|
|25||O Rei do Gado||Brazilian telenovela||32.2||January 1997||SIC|
|26||UEFA Champions League||Monaco vs Porto (final)||31.7||70.5%||26 May 2004||RTP1|
|27||UEFA Euro 2016||Croatia vs Portugal (Round of 16)||31.3||70%||26 June 2016||RTP1|
|28||UEFA Europa League||Sevilla FC vs SL Benfica (final)||31.1||61.4%||14 May 2014||SIC|
|29||UEFA Champions League||Real Madrid vs Atlético Madrid (final)||30.8||64.3%||24 May 2014||TVI|
|30||Terra Nostra||Brazilian telenovela||30.8||64%||11 January 2000||SIC|
|31||2006 FIFA World Cup||Portugal vs Iran||30.4||83.1%||17 June 2006||SIC|
|32||UEFA Europa League||Juventus FC vs SL Benfica (semi-final)||30.4||58.9%||1 May 2014||SIC|
|33||Big Brother Portugal||Live eviction show||30.2||72.5%||26 December 2000||TVI|
|34||UEFA Cup||Sporting CP vs CSKA Moscow (Final)||30.1||68.4%||18 May 2005||RTP1|
|35||Taça de Portugal||SL Benfica vs Sporting CP (Sixth round)||29.9||62.6%||26 January 2005||RTP1|
|36||Torre de Babel||Brazilian telenovela||29.8||77.1%||2 April 1999||SIC|
|37||UEFA Euro 2008||Switzerland vs Portugal||29.8||71.8%||15 June 2008||TVI|
|38||UEFA Cup||Celtic FC vs FC Porto||29.7||67.5%||21 May 2003||SIC|
|39||2006 FIFA World Cup||Germany vs Portugal (Third place play-off)||29.6||78.4%||8 July 2006||SIC|
|40||2006 FIFA World Cup||England vs Portugal (quarter-finals)||29.2||88.1%||1 July 2006||SIC|
|41||UEFA Champions League||Barcelona vs Benfica(quarter-finals)||29.3||65.6%||5 April 2006||RTP1|
|42||2010 FIFA World Cup||Spain vs Portugal (Round of 16)||29.1||75.9%||29 June 2010||RTP1|
|43||Juntos Por Todos||Benefit concert||28.8||67.8%||27 June 2017||RTP1, SIC, TVI|
|44||Médico de Família||Portuguese TV series||27.9||61.4%||16 March 1999||SIC|
Viewership ratings are provided by two companies in South Korea, AGB Nielsen Media Research and TNmS. Originally Media Service Korea was the only company providing such information, and it was later acquired by Nielsen Media Research. In 1999 TNS Media Korea also began such service, and later changed its name to TNmS. AGB collects viewership data based on 2050 households, while TNmS has 2000 households with measuring devices. Drama ratings usually vary between the two companies by 2–3%.
|1.||First Love||KBS2||65.8%||20 April 1997|
|2.||What is Love||MBC||64.9%||24 May 1992|
|3.||Sandglass||SBS||64.5%||6 February 1995|
|4.||Hur Jun||MBC||63.7%||27 June 2000|
|5.||Sunny Place of Youth||KBS2||62.7%||12 November 1995|
|6.||You and I||MBC||62.4%||12 April 1998|
|7.||The Son and the Daughter||MBC||61.1%||21 March 1993|
|8.||Taejo Wang Geon||KBS1||60.2%||20 May 2001|
|9.||Eyes of Dawn||MBC||58.4%||6 February 1992|
|10.||Dae Jang Geum||MBC||57.8%||23 March 2004|
|11.||Lovers in Paris||SBS||57.6%||15 August 2004|
|12.||See and See Again||MBC||57.3%||12 October 1998|
|13.||Truth||MBC||56.5%||24 February 2000|
|14.||Jealousy||MBC||56.1%||21 July 1992|
|15.||Even When the Wind Blows||KBS1||55.8%||26 February 1996|
|16.||Bathhouse Men||KBS2||53.4%||25 August 1996|
|17.||Gook Hee (tie)||MBC||53.1%||16 November 1999|
|17.||Trap of Youth (tie)||SBS||53.1%||15 April 1999|
|19.||Tomato||SBS||52.7%||3 June 1999|
|20.||M||MBC||52.2%||30 August 1994|
Statistics from Mediamätning Skandinavien.
|Year||Programme||Date||Number of viewers (millions)||Network|
|2000||Melodifestivalen 2000||10 March||4.175||SVT2|
|2001||Melodifestivalen 2001||23 February||3.84||SVT1|
|2002||Melodifestivalen 2002||1 March||3.72||SVT1|
|2003||Melodifestivalen 2003||15 March||3.815||SVT1|
|2004||Melodifestivalen 2004||20 March||4.105||SVT1|
|2005||Melodifestivalen 2005||12 March||4.055||SVT1|
|2006||Melodifestivalen 2006||18 March||4.240||SVT1|
|2007||Melodifestivalen 2007||10 March||3.975||SVT1|
|2008||Melodifestivalen 2008||15 March||4.045||SVT1|
|2009||Melodifestivalen 2009||14 March||3.59||SVT1|
|2010||Melodifestivalen 2010||13 March||3.87||SVT1|
|2011||Melodifestivalen 2011||12 March||3.67||SVT1|
|2012||Melodifestivalen 2012||10 March||4.11||SVT1|
|2013||Melodifestivalen 2013||9 March||4.15||SVT1|
|2014||Kalle Anka och hans vänner||24 December||3.705||SVT1|
|2015||Melodifestivalen 2015||14 March||3.771||SVT1|
|Year||Programme||Date||Number of viewers (millions)||Network|
|2000||UEFA Euro 2000 Final (FRA–ITA)||2 July||2.34||SVT2|
|2001||2001 World Men's Handball Championship Final (FRA–SWE)||4 February||2.635||TV4|
|2002||2002 European Men's Handball Championship Final (SWE–GER)||3 February||3.06||TV4|
|2003||2003 FIFA Women's World Cup Final (GER–SWE)||12 October||3.525||TV4|
|2004||UEFA Euro 2004 (SWE–DEN)||22 June||3.796||TV4|
|2005||2005 World Championships in Athletics||7 August||4.055||TV4|
|2006||2006 Men's Olympic Ice Hockey Final (SWE–FIN)||26 February||3.52||SVT2|
|2007||FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2007 – Women's slalom||16 February||2.23||SVT1|
|2008||UEFA Euro 2008 (GRE–SWE)||10 June||3.03||TV4|
|2009||2010 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group 1 (DEN–SWE)||10 October||1.805||Kanal 5|
|2010||2010 FIFA World Cup Final (NED–ESP)||11 July||2.66||SVT1|
|2011||2011 IIHF World Championship Final (SWE–FIN)||15 May||2.035||TV3|
|2012||UEFA Euro 2012 (UKR–SWE)||11 June||2.94||SVT1|
|2013||2013 IIHF World Championship Final (SWE–SUI)||19 May||2.915||TV4|
|2014||2014 FIFA World Cup (GER–ARG)||13 July||2.810||TV4|
|2015||FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2015||1 May||2.272||SVT1|
The following is a list of most watched programmes, excluding sporting events and news coverage. The mid-1980s introduction of in-week repeat showings accounts for six of the top ten programmes. On this measure, the 1996 Christmas edition of Only Fools and Horses is the most watched non-repeated, non-documentary programme of all time in the UK. It is the third most watched programme of all time on a single channel, after the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony and the wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips in 1973 (see below).
|Rank||Show||Episode||Number of viewers
|1||EastEnders||Den serves Angie with divorce papers.||30.15||25 December 1986*||BBC One|
|2||EastEnders||Michelle Fowler reveals she is pregnant.||28.00||1 January 1986*||BBC One|
|3||Coronation Street||Hilda Ogden leaves||26.65||25 December 1987*||ITV (Granada)|
|4||Only Fools and Horses||"Time on Our Hands"||24.35||29 December 1996||BBC One|
|5||EastEnders||24.30||2 January 1992*||BBC One|
|6||Royal Variety Performance 1965||Dame Shirley Bassey, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore||24.20||14 November 1965||ITV (ATV)|
|7||EastEnders||24.15||7 January 1988*||BBC One|
|8||To the Manor Born||Series 1 Finale||23.95||11 November 1979||BBC One|
|9||Miss World 1967||Peru wins.||23.76||19 November 1967||BBC One|
|10||EastEnders||23.55||26 December 1985*||BBC One|
|11||Panorama||Diana, Princess of Wales||22.78||20 November 1995||BBC One|
|12||Royal Variety Performance 1975||Bruce Forsyth, Dad's Army & Vera Lynn||22.66||16 November 1975||ITV (ATV)|
|13||This Is Your Life||Lord Mountbatten||22.22||27 April 1977||ITV (Thames)|
|14||Sunday Night at the London Palladium||21.89||3 December 1967||ITV (ATV)|
|15||The Benny Hill Show||21.67||24 March 1971||ITV (Thames)|
|=16||Dallas||"Who Done It" – J. R. Ewing's shooter is revealed||21.60||22 November 1980||BBC One|
|=16||Coronation Street||Ken and Deirdre divorce||21.60||8 January 1992||ITV (Granada)|
|18||Eurovision Song Contest 1973||Anne-Marie David wins for Luxembourg.||21.56||7 April 1973||BBC One|
|19||Steptoe and Son||21.54||18 February 1964||BBC TV|
|=20||The Mike Yarwood Show||Mike Yarwood Christmas Show||21.40||25 December 1977||BBC One|
|=20||Coronation Street||Bet Lynch becomes landlady of the Rovers Return Inn.||21.40||2 January 1985||ITV (Granada)|
|22||Coronation Street||Rita Tanner's first appearance.||21.36||2 December 1964||ITV (Granada)|
|23||Only Fools and Horses||"If They Could See Us Now"||21.35||25 December 2001||BBC One|
* denotes aggregated figure with repeat showing.
These are the most watched films by total number of viewers (dates are when the films were broadcast, not necessarily when they were produced).
|Rank||Title||Number of viewers
|1||Live and Let Die||23.50||20 January 1980||ITV|
|2||Jaws||23.25||8 October 1981||ITV|
|3||The Spy Who Loved Me||22.90||28 March 1982||ITV|
|4||Diamonds Are Forever||22.15||15 March 1981||ITV|
|5||Crocodile Dundee||21.75||25 December 1989||BBC1|
The majority of special events attracting large audiences are often carried on more than one channel. The most watched programme of all time on a single channel is the 1973 wedding ceremony of The Princess Anne, shown only on BBC1.
|Rank||Event||Number of viewers
|1||1966 FIFA World Cup Final||32.30||30 July 1966||BBC One/ITV|
|2||Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales||32.10||6 September 1997||BBC One/ITV|
|3||Royal Family (documentary)||30.69||21 June 1969 and 28 June 1969||BBC One/ITV|
|4||Apollo 13 splashdown||28.60||17 April 1970||BBC One/ITV|
|5||1970 FA Cup Final replay||28.49||29 April 1970||BBC One/ITV|
|6||Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer||28.40||29 July 1981||BBC One/ITV|
|7||Wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips||27.60||14 November 1973||BBC One|
|8||2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony||24.46||12 August 2012||BBC One|
|9||2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony||24.24||27 July 2012||BBC One|
|10||JFK Assassination – News Broadcast||24.15||22 November 1963||BBC TV/ITV|
Note: The Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton (29 April 2011) received a total audience peak of 26 million viewers, but this is a combined figure aggregated from the ten different channels that broadcast the ceremony. The highest figures of these were 13.59 million on BBC1, with an extra 4.02 million watching on ITV.
|Year||Programme||Date||Number of viewers
|1981||Film: Jaws||8 October 1981||23.30||ITV|
|1982||Film: The Spy Who Loved Me||28 March 1982||22.90||ITV|
|1983||Coronation Street||23 February 1983||18.45||ITV|
|1984||Royal Variety Performance 1984||25 November 1984||20.55||BBC One|
|1985||EastEnders||26 December 1985||23.55||BBC One|
|1986||EastEnders||25 December 1986||30.15||BBC One|
|1987||EastEnders||1 January 1987||28.00||BBC One|
|1988||EastEnders||7 January 1988||24.15||BBC One|
|1989||Film: "Crocodile" Dundee||25 December 1989||21.77||BBC One|
|1990||Neighbours (Episode 837)||26 February 1990||21.16||BBC One|
|1991||Coronation Street||25 November 1991||20.45||ITV|
|1992||Coronation Street||22 January 1992||20.45||ITV|
|1993||Coronation Street||22 March 1993||20.73||ITV|
|1994||Torvill and Dean – Olympic Ice Dance Championship||21 February 1994||23.95||BBC One|
|1995||Panorama Special: Princess Diana||20 November 1995||22.78||BBC One|
|1996||Only Fools and Horses||29 December 1996||24.35||BBC One|
|1997||Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales||6 September 1997||19.29||BBC One|
|1998||1998 FIFA World Cup: England v Argentina||30 June 1998||23.78||ITV|
|1999||Coronation Street||7 March 1999||19.82||ITV|
|2000||Coronation Street||3 January 2000||18.96||ITV|
|2001||Only Fools and Horses||25 December 2001||21.35||BBC One|
|2002||Only Fools and Horses||25 December 2002||17.40||BBC One|
|2003||Coronation Street||24 February 2003||19.43||ITV|
|2004||UEFA Euro 2004: England v Portugal||24 June 2004||20.66||BBC One|
|2005||Coronation Street||21 February 2005||14.36||ITV|
|2006||2006 FIFA World Cup: England v Sweden||20 June 2006||18.46||ITV|
|2007||EastEnders||25 December 2007||14.38||BBC One|
|2008||Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death||25 December 2008||16.15||BBC One|
|2009||Britain's Got Talent Final Result||30 May 2009||18.29||ITV|
|2010||The X Factor Results||12 December 2010||16.55||ITV|
|2011||The Royal Wedding||29 April 2011||13.59||BBC One1|
|2012||2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony||12 August 2012||24.46||BBC One|
|2013||New Year's Eve Fireworks||31 December 2013||13.53||BBC One|
|2014||2014 FIFA World Cup Final: Germany v Argentina||13 July 2014||14.96||BBC One2|
|2015||The Great British Bake Off||7 October 2015||15.05||BBC One|
|2016||The Great British Bake Off||26 October 2016||15.90||BBC One|
|2017||Blue Planet II: "One Ocean"||29 October 2017||14.01||BBC One|
|2018||Call the Midwife||11 February 2018||10.27||BBC One|
NBC's live telecast of Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 currently holds the record for the largest average viewership of any U.S. television broadcast, with 114.4 million viewers. During this broadcast, the halftime show featuring Katy Perry was watched by 118.5 million viewers. The previous live telecast Super Bowl XLV in February 2011 helped Fox become the first ever television network in the United States to be watched by at least 100 million American viewers by average for a single primetime night of programming. Moreover, Super Bowl telecasts account for 23 of the most watched television broadcasts based on overall viewership in U.S. television history. Fox's live telecast of Super Bowl LI in 2017 currently holds the largest total viewership in U.S. television history, peaking at 172 million viewers in Super Bowl's first ever overtime play.
Additionally, the National Football League (or NFL) regular season is watched since 2012 by at least 200 million individuals in the United States, accounting for the largest consistent annual nationwide viewership for any television event in U.S. television history (representing almost 70% of the American households, more than 80% of the total U.S. television viewers, and more than 60% of the 2018 U.S. population of 325 million individuals).
This table lists the 15 most watched U.S. television series finales in history, effective as of the current season. However, all the Nielsen ratings for U.S. television series finales broadcast starting 2003 were adjusted from the 2007–2008 season to incorporate both the standard live primetime and week-long time-shifted or delayed DVR viewership figures (based on the telecast's final 5-minute standard run) in the United States only (from the dates of their original series finale runs).
The finale is not necessarily a show's most watched episode, the most prominent of examples being CBS' Dallas, viewed by about 90 million American viewers after the network's 21 November 1980 primetime telecast of the resolution episode of the internationally known 'Who Shot J.R.' cliffhanger (the second highest rated single television broadcast in U.S. history, watched by 53.3% of American households and more than 76% of the total U.S. television viewers for that year), almost thrice as many viewers as there were for the 1991 series finale (33.3 million viewers).
The highest-rated single television broadcast in U.S. history is the 150-minute-long final episode of M*A*S*H* (which remains the sole regular U.S. primetime television series to be watched by at least 100 million viewers in the United States alone for an episode), transmitted on primetime by CBS on 28 February 1983, viewed at a peak conclusion by 125 million American viewers (or 60.2% of American households and at least 77% of the total U.S. television viewers). When TV miniseries are taken into the Nielsen tallies, ABC's Roots posted the second most watched series finale in U.S. history, watched on 30 January 1977, by 100 million viewers (51.1% of American households and more than 71% of the total U.S. television viewers that year), but attracted the largest viewership for any type of primetime television series in U.S. history – a record currently standing at between 130 million and 140 million American viewers for its 8-part installment in January 1977 (peaking up to 80% of the total U.S. television viewers in 1977).
CBS' Everybody Loves Raymond bumped the syndicated series Star Trek: The Next Generation out of the Top 15 Nielsen tally of the all-time most watched U.S. TV series finales in May 2005, but the latter remains the most watched of all syndicated programs in U.S. history. NBC aired 2 of the top 5 all-time most watched overall U.S. television series finales to date (both of sitcom genre, behind the 1983 M.A.S.H. and 1977 Roots respective final episodes, and also sandwiching the peak rating record of the August 1967, final broadcast of ABC's The Fugitive) – the 21 May 1993 broadcast of the series finale of Cheers (the most watched overall U.S. television series finale in the cable television era, attracting a peak of almost 93.5 million American viewers), and the primetime telecast of the final episode of Seinfeld on 14 May 1998.
|Rank||Title||Episode||Number of viewers
|1||M*A*S*H||"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen"||125.0[a]||60.2%||77%||28 Feb 1983||CBS|
|2||Roots (miniseries)||"Part VIII"||100.0||51.1%||71%||30 Jan 1977||ABC|
|3||Cheers||"One for the Road"||93.5[a]||45.5%||64%||20 May 1993||NBC|
|4||The Fugitive||"The Judgment" Part 2||78.0||45.9%||72%||29 Aug 1967||ABC|
|5||Seinfeld||"The Finale"||76.3||41.3%||58%||14 May 1998||NBC|
|6||Friends||"The Last One"||65.9||35.6%||52%||6 May 2004||NBC|
|7||Magnum, P.I.||"Resolutions"||50.7||32.0%||48%||8 May 1988||CBS|
|8||The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson||Finale of Carson-hosting era||50.0||30.0%||46%||22 May 1992||NBC|
|9||The Cosby Show||"And So We Commence"||44.4||28.0%||45%||30 April 1992|
|10||Frasier||"Goodnight, Seattle"||42.7||25.8%||40%||13 May 2004||NBC|
|11||All in the Family||"Too Good Edith"||40.2||26.6%||43%||8 April 1979||CBS|
|12||Everybody Loves Raymond||"The Finale"||38.3||25.7%||36%||16 May 2005||CBS|
|13||Family Ties||"Alex Doesn't Live Here Anymore"||36.3||20.8%||35%||14 May 1989||NBC|
|14||Home Improvement||"The Long and Winding Road"||35.5||21.6%||43%||25 May 1999||ABC|
|15||Dallas||"Conundrum"||33.3||22.0%||38%||3 May 1991||CBS|
This table lists the most watched overall television episode for every decade in the United States, as tallied by the Nielsen Media Research since the 1950–1951 television season. The audience share category of the Nielsen ratings only began in the 1959–1960 television season, and that all the Nielsen ratings for U.S. telecasts starting 2003 were adjusted from the 2007–08 season to incorporate both the standard live primetime and time-shifted or delayed DVR viewership figures (based on the telecast's final 5-minute standard run) in the United States only (from the dates of their original series finale runs).
|1950s||The Ed Sullivan Show||Special guesting of Elvis Presley||60.0||82.6%||71%||9 Sep 1956||CBS|
|1960s||The Fugitive||"The Judgment"
|78.0||45.9%||72%||29 Aug 1967||ABC|
|1970s||Roots (miniseries)||"Part VIII"||100.0||51.1%||71%||30 Jan 1977||ABC|
|1980s||M*A*S*H||"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen"||125.0||60.2%||77%||28 Feb 1983||CBS|
|1990s||Cheers||"One for the Road"||93.5||51.7%||72%||20 May 1993||NBC|
|2000s||Friends||"The Last One"||80.0||40.2%||62%||6 May 2004||NBC|
|2010s||Undercover Boss||"Waste Management, Inc" (Series Premiere)||42.3||29.4%||36%||7 Feb 2010||CBS|
This table lists all the TV shows with the highest average household Nielsen rating for each television season in the United States, inclusive of both standard live primetime and time-shifted or delayed DVR viewership figures in the United States alone for all other airing programs beginning the 2007–08 season.
American Idol, during its first run on Fox, holds the record for most consecutive (and overall total) seasons at No. 1, with eight. It is also the first ever television series of reality singing competition genre (and Fox's first ever television program) to take the top position in the Nielsen annual primetime television ratings. However, American Idol usually airs two live episodes a week for its finals stage (Tuesdays and Wednesdays from its inception in 2002 to 2010, and Wednesdays and Thursdays between 2011 and 2014); for the 2003–2004 season, only the Tuesday (or competition stage) show was ranked No. 1, and for that television season, American Idol as a whole placed second (potentially giving the top spot to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation from CBS, if the ratings of American Idol for that year had been summarized as only 1 day-per-week broadcast format). From 2005 to 2011, the whole show was No. 1 for only seven consecutive (and overall total) seasons, but still ranked No.1 overall in the 18–49 demographic for eight consecutive seasons.
CBS's All in the Family and NBC's The Cosby Show and Sunday Night Football share second place, ranked No. 1 overall each for 5 consecutive (and overall total) seasons, from 1972 to 1976, 1986 to 1990, and 2012 and beginning 2014, respectively. The latter became the first ever regular primetime sports television program to rank first in the Nielsen annual ratings, and the first ever regularly scheduled primetime television program aired live in all U.S. time zones to take the No. 1 overall spot amongst all U.S. television programs in at least one season. If the total number of seasons of Nielsen No.1-leads are counted, CBS's 60 Minutes also share second place, and to date is the only primetime program to lead the Nielsen primetime ratings in 3 separate decades – 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s, as well as the most recent nightly news program to rank first in the Nielsen annual ratings.
Since 2004, all Nielsen U.S. top-ranking overall television programs are broadcast live in the U.S. except for NCIS, which in the 2012-2013 season, became the most recent scripted series to rank first in the overall Nielsen annual ratings. As of 2017, NBC's ER and Friends, remained the latest primetime programs in the United States of medical drama and sitcom genres to rank first in the Nielsen annual ratings, back in 1994, 1999 and 2002, respectively. NBC's Seinfeld remained as the latest television series to end its run leading the annual Nielsen television ratings, back in 1998. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? remains the latest primetime program from ABC to lead the Nielsen annual television ratings, back in 2000.
Record-setting U.S. television programs as listed below are in bold text.
The program with the all-time highest annual Nielsen average rating
Two or more programs tie for highest average Nielsen rating in the same season
The program with the all-time longest consecutive season winning streak in Nielsen ratings
|1950–1951||Texaco Star Theater||NBC||61.6|
|1951–1952||Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts||CBS||53.8|
|1952–1953||I Love Lucy||67.3|
|1955–1956||The $64,000 Question||47.5|
|1956–1957||I Love Lucy||43.7|
|1962–1963||The Beverly Hillbillies||CBS||36.0|
|1967–1968||The Andy Griffith Show||CBS||27.6|
|1968–1969||Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In||NBC||31.8|
|1970–1971||Marcus Welby, M.D.||ABC||29.6|
|1971–1972||All in the Family||CBS||34.0|
|1977–1978||Laverne & Shirley||31.6|
|1985–1986||The Cosby Show||NBC||33.7|
|The Cosby Show||NBC|
|1999–2000||Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? – Tuesdays||ABC||18.6|
|2000–2001||Survivor: The Australian Outback||CBS||17.4|
|2002–2003||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||CBS||16.3|
|2003–2004||American Idol – Tuesdays (Competition)||Fox||14.2|
|2004–2005||American Idol – Overall Season||15.2|
|2011–2012||NBC Sunday Night Football||NBC||13.1|
|2013–2014||NBC Sunday Night Football||NBC||12.8|
This table lists the primetime television series with the most number of seasons of No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings for every decade in the United States, as tallied by the Nielsen Media Research since the 1950–1951 television season. Only the Nielsen household share will be shown in the following table.
The U.S. television program with the longest ever streak at No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings is written in bold text.
|Debut season at
Nielsen No. 1
|End season at
Nielsen No. 1
at No. 1
|1950s||I Love Lucy||67.3 (1952–1953)||1952–1953||1956–1957||4||CBS|
|1970s||All in the Family||34.0 (1971–1972)||1971–1972||1975–1976||5|
|1980s||The Cosby Show||34.9 (1986–1987)||1985–1986||1989–1990||NBC|
|1990s||60 Minutes||28.4 (1979–1980)||1979–1980||1993–1994||CBS|
|2000s||American Idol||17.6 (2005–2006)||2003–2004||2010–2011||8||Fox|
|2010s||NBC Sunday Night Football||13.3 (2015–2016)||2011–2012||2016-2017||5||NBC|
It's also probably the biggest show on the planet, attracting 700 million viewers, six times the Super Bowl's audience.
The gala has made some world records: It has the world's highest audience numbers of its kind, reaching more than one billion (1,000,000,000.) viewers.
With an estimated daily audience of around 135 million– 14 times the audience of the highest-rated US news show – CCTV's Xinwen Lianbo is one of the world's most watched programs. Such is its power that last month the 2013 advertising slots were sold for a record RMB5.4 billion, with Wuliangye, Maotai and Gome spending over RMB1 billion between them on the five-second countdown before the show begins.
No, J.R.'s beautiful wife did not do it. She was too obvious a suspect. The real culprit was her conniving sister, Kristin, the only other character in Dallas capable of equalling J.R. at viciousness. At 10:54 last night, Kristin, played by Mary Crosby, daughter of the late Bing, stepped forward to admit the dirty deed.