¡¡¡¡CBS clearly knew what it was doing when it decided to launch Queen Latifah¡¯s ¡°Equalizer¡± reboot behind Super Bowl LV in February. Despite a lopsided game that forced a lot of viewers to tune out before the after-show, CBS nonetheless managed to open ¡°Equalizer¡± with 20.4 million viewers, and continue to hold on to a sizable percentage of that audience through the end of its freshman season.

¡¡¡¡The networks used to regularly premiere new shows behind the Super Bowl, but mostly gave up on that practice by the mid-1990s after several flops. But ¡°Equalizer¡± was a reminder that it can still work — with the right show. ¡°Equalizer¡± has the distinction of being the season¡¯s top-rated new series among adults 18-49 (1.9 rating) and total viewers (12.7 million).

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¡¡¡¡As another unusual, COVID-compromised TV season comes to a close on Wednesday, Variety has once again compiled the list of the most-watched TV shows of the year, in both total viewers and adults 18-49. If these don¡¯t look like great numbers, well, it¡¯s 2021. There¡¯s no such thing as great numbers anymore.

¡¡¡¡Every time another TV phenomenon ends its run — think ¡°Game of Thrones¡± or ¡°The Big Bang Theory¡± — nothing that large takes its place. And although one-time ratings behemoths ¡°American Idol¡± and ¡°The Walking Dead¡± still roam among us, those shows¡¯ best days are long behind them.

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¡¡¡¡Really, we could use that ¡°best days behind them¡± line for just about all of broadcast and cable (except perhaps that ¡°90 Day Fianc¨¦¡± franchise. More on that in a moment.) Compiling this chart every May is like an annual reminder of one¡¯s own mortality, let alone the TV business¡¯ frailty. The networks can still do good things, and every once in a while can open a show like ¡°Equalizer¡± or ¡°The Masked Singer¡± — but the downward ratings trend of live, or even live-plus-time-shifted viewers, is never going to rebound. People just don¡¯t watch TV this way anymore. Some of the shows on this list have tremendous viewership in the aftermarket, while others are just duds.

¡¡¡¡But without any other legitimate or universally agreed-upon yardstick, this is still the best way to measure some sort of success or failure in linear TV. Just like they call journalism the ¡°first draft of history,¡± so goes the first round of ratings. They may not tell the ultimate story, but they give us an initial idea of whether audiences might be willing to sample the show down the road — or if said show is DOA. Take a look at this year¡¯s list and you¡¯ll have a better idea why some of this year¡¯s network offerings, even the ones that just premiered, were hastily canceled. Even in a world where broadcasters are practicing much more patience than they used to before axing a series, sometimes it¡¯s best to cut your losses and throw a complete miss back out to sea.

¡¡¡¡Here¡¯s a final look at some of the hits and misses of 2020-2021, followed by our complete list of the 100 most-watched shows of the season, according to both adults 18-49 and total viewers, using the most recent live+7 ratings (which include seven days¡¯ worth of DVR and video on-demand usage).

¡¡¡¡WINNERS

¡¡¡¡¡°Equalizer¡± (CBS): All hail the Queen. As mentioned above, thanks to that plum post-Super Bowl slot, ¡°Equalizer¡± is the most-watched new series of the year in linear TV — and the second-most watched entertainment program.

¡¡¡¡Ken Jeong: The comedian has become a huge part of Fox¡¯s lineup, and he¡¯s also involved with the two top-20 unscripted series. ¡°The Masked Singer,¡± of which Jeong is a panelist, ranked No. 4 this year (tied with ¡°This Is Us¡±), while ¡°I Can See Your Voice,¡± which Jeong hosts, is tied at No. 19. Jeong¡¯s third appearance in the top 100 is for ¡°The Masked Dancer,¡± on which he was also a panelist.

¡¡¡¡¡°Curse of Oak Island¡± (History): Every year we put together this chart and mutter the same thing to ourselves: ¡°What is ¡®Curse of Oak Island¡¯?¡± And every year we Google it and re-discover the rabid popularity of the treasure hunters off of Nova Scotia. This year, it¡¯s the most-watched cable entertainment series of the year.

¡¡¡¡TLC: Perhaps they should go wall-to-wall ¡°90 Day Fianc¨¦¡± on TLC, given the continued success of the franchise. And actually, they sort of have, with countless offshoot series, all doing so well. This year, the network¡¯s ¡°90 Day Fianc¨¦ Happily Ever After: Tell All,¡± ¡°90 Day Fianc¨¦: The Other Way,¡± ¡°90 Day Fianc¨¦: Tell All¡± and the original recipe ¡°90 Day Fianc¨¦¡± are among the top-rated cable series of the year in adults 18-49. Also, what is ¡°Darcey & Stacey,¡± you might ask? Why, it¡¯s a spinoff of the ¡°90 Day¡± franchise, of course!

¡¡¡¡LOSERS

¡¡¡¡Comedy: Once again, as half-hours continue to disappear from the primetime schedules, there isn¡¯t much to get excited about. The top 30 with adults 18-49 boasts just three sitcoms: ¡°Young Sheldon,¡± ¡°The Conners¡± and ¡°The Neighborhood.¡± But throw in animation, and at least ¡°South Park¡± managed to make it to No. 15 — but with an asterisk (that¡¯s based on just two episodes).

¡¡¡¡¡°American Housewife,¡± ¡°MacGyver¡±: While we still await the fates of several shows, including NBC¡¯s ¡°Manifest,¡± for now the ABC comedy ¡°American Housewife¡± is the top-rated show in adults 18-49 to get an unexpected cancellation, while ¡°MacGyver¡± right now is the most-watched surprise cancellation in total viewers.

¡¡¡¡Linear TV: Sigh. How low can these numbers go?

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¡¡¡¡THE 100 TOP-RATED SERIES OF 2020-2021 (ADULTS 18-49)

¡¡¡¡RATING /18-49 VIEWER (000)

¡¡¡¡1.NFL Sunday Night Football (NBC)4.8/266,216

¡¡¡¡2.NFL Thursday Night Football (Fox/NFL)3.9/235,008

¡¡¡¡3.NFL Monday Night Football (ESPN)3.5/204,494

¡¡¡¡4.This Is Us (NBC)2.0/132,636

¡¡¡¡The Masked Singer (Fox)2.0/132,599

¡¡¡¡6.Grey¡¯s Anatomy (ABC)1.9/122,519

¡¡¡¡NFL Thursday Night Football (NFL)1.9/122,491

¡¡¡¡Equalizer (CBS)1.9/122,442

¡¡¡¡9.9-1-1 (Fox)1.8/112,319

¡¡¡¡The Bachelorette (ABC)1.8/102,308

¡¡¡¡The Bachelor (ABC)1.8/112,283

¡¡¡¡12.Law & Order: Organized Crime (NBC)1.7/122,136

¡¡¡¡13.Chicago P.D. (NBC)1.6/122,124

¡¡¡¡Chicago Fire (NBC)1.6/102,037

¡¡¡¡15.9-1-1: Lone Star (Fox)1.5/91,988

¡¡¡¡South Park (Comedy Central)1.5/91,931

¡¡¡¡17.Law & Order: SVU (NBC)1.4/91,835

¡¡¡¡Chicago Med (NBC)1.4/81,829

¡¡¡¡19.FBI (CBS)1.3/81,678

¡¡¡¡I Can See Your Voice (Fox)1.3/71,646

¡¡¡¡The Good Doctor (ABC)1.3/81,646

¡¡¡¡Station 19 (ABC)1.3/81,645

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¡¡¡¡NCIS (CBS)1.3/81,633

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¡¡¡¡24.60 Minutes (CBS)1.2/71,596

¡¡¡¡The Voice-Tuesday (NBC)1.2/71,574

¡¡¡¡Big Sky (ABC)1.2/81,527

¡¡¡¡The Voice-Monday (NBC)1.2/71,527

¡¡¡¡Dancing with the Stars (ABC)1.2/61,515

¡¡¡¡Young Sheldon (CBS)1.2/81,513

¡¡¡¡30.American Idol (ABC)1.1/71,487

¡¡¡¡90 Day Fianc¨¦ Happily Ever After: Tell All (TLC)1.1/61,466

¡¡¡¡The Walking Dead (AMC)1.1/71,445

¡¡¡¡The Conners (ABC)1.1/71,439

¡¡¡¡90 Day Fianc¨¦: The Other Way (TLC)1.1/61,339

¡¡¡¡The Amazing Race (CBS)1.1/61,359

¡¡¡¡Hell¡¯s Kitchen (Fox)1.1/71,372

¡¡¡¡The Neighborhood (CBS)1.1/71,366

¡¡¡¡38.Celebrity Wheel of Fortune (ABC)1.0/71,336

¡¡¡¡A Million Little Things (ABC)1.0/71,324

¡¡¡¡90 Day Fianc¨¦: Tell All (TLC)1.0/71,308

¡¡¡¡FBI: Most Wanted (CBS)1.0/71,303

¡¡¡¡90 Day Fianc¨¦ (TLC)1.0/61,293

¡¡¡¡New Amsterdam (NBC)1.0/71,280

¡¡¡¡The Rookie (ABC)1.0/71,279

¡¡¡¡The Resident (Fox)1.0/61,262

¡¡¡¡46.Manifest (NBC)0.9/71,228

¡¡¡¡Supermarket Sweep (ABC)0.9/51,225

¡¡¡¡Saturday Night Football (ABC)0.9/61,221

¡¡¡¡Call Me Kat (Fox)0.9/61,219

¡¡¡¡Below Deck Mediterranean (Bravo)0.9/51,216

¡¡¡¡American Idol-Monday (ABC)0.9/61,211

¡¡¡¡Mom (CBS)0.9/61,203

¡¡¡¡The Masked Dancer (Fox)0.9/51,198

¡¡¡¡The Goldbergs (ABC)0.9/61,189

¡¡¡¡Family Guy (Fox)0.9/51,185

¡¡¡¡Blue Bloods (CBS)0.9/71,181

¡¡¡¡S.W.A.T. (CBS)0.9/61,178

¡¡¡¡Shark Tank (ABC)0.9/71,177

¡¡¡¡Curse of Oak Island (History)0.9/61,150

¡¡¡¡NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)0.9/51,144

¡¡¡¡Seal Team (CBS)0.9/61,144

¡¡¡¡Young Rock (NBC)0.9/61,136

¡¡¡¡The Simpsons (Fox)0.9/51,132

¡¡¡¡The Challenge: Double Agents (MTV)0.9/61,126

¡¡¡¡Below Deck (Bravo)0.9/51,118

¡¡¡¡American Housewife (ABC)0.9/51,108

¡¡¡¡Celebrity Family Feud (ABC)0.9/51,107

¡¡¡¡The Chase (ABC)0.9/51,104

¡¡¡¡69.Prodigal Son (Fox)0.8/51,094

¡¡¡¡Bob Hearts Abishola (CBS)0.8/51,087

¡¡¡¡Clarice (CBS)0.8/61,082

¡¡¡¡Bull (CBS)0.8/61,079

¡¡¡¡The Weakest Link (NBC)0.8/51,057

¡¡¡¡NCIS: New Orleans (CBS)0.8/51,053

¡¡¡¡Magnum P.I. (CBS)0.8/61,053

¡¡¡¡Last Man Standing (Fox)0.8/51,032

¡¡¡¡90 Day Fianc¨¦: Happily Ever After (TLC)0.8/51,019

¡¡¡¡Bob¡¯s Burgers (Fox)0.8/4984

¡¡¡¡B Positive (CBS)0.8/5983

¡¡¡¡Mr. Mayor (NBC)0.8/5982

¡¡¡¡America¡¯s Funniest Home Videos (ABC)0.8/5976

¡¡¡¡82.Jersey Shore: Family Vacation S4 (MTV)0.7/5968

¡¡¡¡60 Minutes Presents (CBS)0.7/6959

¡¡¡¡Superstore (NBC)0.7/5957

¡¡¡¡Real Housewives of Orange County (Bravo)0.7/4950

¡¡¡¡Name That Tune (Fox)0.7/4950

¡¡¡¡Rebel (ABC)0.7/5950

¡¡¡¡WWE Friday Night Smackdown (Fox)0.7/5946

¡¡¡¡Good Girls (NBC)0.7/5933

¡¡¡¡The Unicorn (CBS)0.7/5928

¡¡¡¡MacGyver (CBS)0.7/5927

¡¡¡¡The Blacklist (NBC)0.7/5925

¡¡¡¡Teen Mom II S10 (MTV)0.7/4922

¡¡¡¡Game of Talents (Fox)0.7/5916

¡¡¡¡Home Economics (ABC)0.7/5914

¡¡¡¡Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo)0.7/4901

¡¡¡¡Real Housewives of New Jersey (Bravo)0.7/5898

¡¡¡¡Darcey & Stacey (TLC)0.7/4896

¡¡¡¡To Tell The Truth (ABC)0.7/5896

¡¡¡¡Debris (NBC)0.7/5895

¡¡¡¡Paramount Plus Challenge Sneak (MTV)0.7/5892

¡¡¡¡All Rise (CBS)0.7/4890

¡¡¡¡Transplant (NBC)0.7/5887

¡¡¡¡For Life (ABC)0.7/5878

¡¡¡¡Press Your Luck (ABC)0.7/4877

¡¡¡¡20/20 (ABC)0.7/5877

¡¡¡¡Black-ish (ABC)0.7/4867

¡¡¡¡United States of Al (CBS)0.7/4861

¡¡¡¡WWE Monday Night Raw (USA)0.7/4847

¡¡¡¡Gold Rush (Discovery)0.7/4842SOURCE: NIELSEN. 09-21-2020 – 05-19-2021. PRELIMINARY LIVE+7 DAYS, PRIME, ORIGINAL TELECASTS ONLY. TOP 100 SHOWN BASED ON A18-49. EXCLUDES: SPORTS COMMENTARY; SPECIALS (SPECIAL SPORTS EVENTS ALSO EXCLUDED, SUCH AS PLAYOFFS, FINALS, NFL DRAFT); SPANISH-LANGUAGE PROGRAMMING; CHILDRENS¡¯ NETWORKS; MOVIES AND BROADCAST PROGRAMS AIRING PREDOMINANTLY IN SUMMER 2020 (E.G., AGT, BIG BROTHER, LOVE ISLAND).

¡¡¡¡TOP 100 SHOWS OF 2020-2021, TOTAL VIEWERS

¡¡¡¡America¡¯s most-watched series of the 2020-2021 season are ¡­

¡¡¡¡VIEWERS (000)

¡¡¡¡1.NFL Sunday Night Football (NBC)16,662

¡¡¡¡2.NFL Thursday Night Football (Fox/NFL Network)13,418

¡¡¡¡3.NCIS (CBS)12,730

¡¡¡¡4.Equalizer (CBS)12,686

¡¡¡¡5.NFL Monday Night Football (ESPN)11,266

¡¡¡¡6.FBI (CBS)11,073

¡¡¡¡7.60 Minutes (CBS)10,881

¡¡¡¡8.Chicago Fire (NBC)10,319

¡¡¡¡9.Blue Bloods (CBS)10,161

¡¡¡¡10.Chicago Med (NBC)9,850

¡¡¡¡11.9-1-1 (Fox)9,819

¡¡¡¡Chicago PD (NBC)9,819

¡¡¡¡13.This Is Us (NBC)9,477

¡¡¡¡14.Young Sheldon (CBS)9,465

¡¡¡¡15.9-1-1: Lone Star (Fox)8,900

¡¡¡¡16.FBI: Most Wanted (CBS)8,898

¡¡¡¡17.The Voice-Tuesday (NBC)8,699

¡¡¡¡18.Bull (CBS)8,640

¡¡¡¡19.The Voice-Monday (NBC)8,590

¡¡¡¡20.Law & Order: Organized Crime (NBC)8,351

¡¡¡¡21.The Good Doctor (ABC)8,304

¡¡¡¡22.Grey¡¯s Anatomy (ABC)8,227

¡¡¡¡23.60 Minutes Presents (CBS)8,094

¡¡¡¡24.NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)7,794

¡¡¡¡25.The Masked Singer (Fox)7,668

¡¡¡¡26.Big Sky (ABC)7,514

¡¡¡¡27.Magnum P.I. (CBS)7,481

¡¡¡¡28.American Idol (ABC)7,428

¡¡¡¡29.Dancing with the Stars (ABC)7,329

¡¡¡¡30.NCIS: New Orleans (CBS)7,216

¡¡¡¡31.Celebrity Wheel of Fortune (ABC)7,151

¡¡¡¡32.Station 19 (ABC)7,141

¡¡¡¡33.New Amsterdam (NBC)7,138

¡¡¡¡34.The Rookie (ABC)7,115

¡¡¡¡35.Mom (CBS)6,986

¡¡¡¡36.The Neighborhood (CBS)6,805

¡¡¡¡37.Law & Order: SVU (NBC)6,785

¡¡¡¡38.Bob Hearts Abishola (CBS)6,584

¡¡¡¡39.Seal Team (CBS)6,526

¡¡¡¡40.The Bachelor (ABC)6,461

¡¡¡¡41.NFL Thursday Night Football (NFL)6,297

¡¡¡¡42.American Idol-Monday (ABC)6,238

¡¡¡¡43.Clarice (CBS)6,201

¡¡¡¡44.United States of Al (CBS)6,095

¡¡¡¡45.The Bachelorette (ABC)6,045

¡¡¡¡46.S.W.A.T. (CBS)6,004

¡¡¡¡47.MacGyver (CBS)5,897

¡¡¡¡48.All Rise (CBS)5,835

¡¡¡¡49.Celebrity Family Feud (ABC)5,772

¡¡¡¡50.Rebel (ABC)5,735

¡¡¡¡51.The Resident (Fox)5,733

¡¡¡¡52.The Conners (ABC)5,692

¡¡¡¡53.B Positive (CBS)5,691

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¡¡¡¡54.The Chase (ABC)5,604

¡¡¡¡55.Manifest (NBC)5,521

¡¡¡¡56.The Blacklist (NBC)5,509

¡¡¡¡57.A Million Little Things (ABC)5,492

¡¡¡¡58.Transplant (NBC)5,492

¡¡¡¡59.The Amazing Race (CBS)5,406

¡¡¡¡60.America¡¯s Funniest Home Videos (ABC)5,367

¡¡¡¡61.The Unicorn (CBS)5,052

¡¡¡¡62.Debris (NBC)5,031

¡¡¡¡63.Shark Tank (ABC)5,021

¡¡¡¡64.I Can See Your Voice (Fox)4,836

¡¡¡¡65.Last Man Standing (Fox)4,655

¡¡¡¡66.To Tell the Truth (ABC)4,487

¡¡¡¡67.Mr. Mayor (NBC)4,459

¡¡¡¡68.The Weakest Link (NBC)4,458

¡¡¡¡69.The Goldbergs (ABC)4,427

¡¡¡¡70.Curse of Oak Island (History)4,183

¡¡¡¡71.Call Me Kat (Fox)4,159

¡¡¡¡72.20/20 (ABC)4,158

¡¡¡¡73.Prodigal Son (Fox)4,154

¡¡¡¡74.Dateline Friday (NBC)4,151

¡¡¡¡75.American Housewife (ABC)4,022

¡¡¡¡76.Supermarket Sweep (ABC)3,875

¡¡¡¡77.The Masked Dancer (Fox)3,874

¡¡¡¡78.Saturday Night Football (ABC)3,867

¡¡¡¡79.Dateline Monday (NBC)3,853

¡¡¡¡80.Young Rock (NBC)3,847

¡¡¡¡81.Tough as Nails (CBS)3,843

¡¡¡¡82.Press Your Luck (ABC)3,831

¡¡¡¡83.90 Day Fianc¨¦ Happily Ever After: Tell All (TLC)3,817

¡¡¡¡84.Hell¡¯s Kitchen (Fox)3,794

¡¡¡¡85.Emergency Call (ABC)3,763

¡¡¡¡86.Dateline Thursday (NBC)3,762

¡¡¡¡87.Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (ABC)3,735

¡¡¡¡88.The Walking Dead (AMC)3,711

¡¡¡¡89.Home Economics (ABC)3,659

¡¡¡¡90.Call Your Mother (ABC)3,625

¡¡¡¡91.American Ninja Warrior (NBC)3,613

¡¡¡¡92.90 Day Fianc¨¦: The Other Way (NBC)3,580

¡¡¡¡93.The Wall (NBC)3,468

¡¡¡¡94.Match Game (ABC)3,438

¡¡¡¡95.The Hustler (ABC)3,436

¡¡¡¡96.Name That Tune (Fox)3,280

¡¡¡¡97.90 Day Fianc¨¦: Tell All (TLC)3,217

¡¡¡¡98.Black-ish (ABC)3,207

¡¡¡¡99.For Life (ABC)3,203

¡¡¡¡100.90 Day Fianc¨¦ (TLC)3,141

¡¡¡¡SOURCE: NIELSEN. 09-21-2020 – 05-19-2021. PRELIMINARY LIVE+7 DAYS, PRIME, ORIGINAL TELECASTS ONLY. TOP 100 SHOWN BASED ON A18-49. EXCLUDES: SPORTS COMMENTARY; SPECIALS (SPECIAL SPORTS EVENTS ALSO EXCLUDED, SUCH AS PLAYOFFS, FINALS, NFL DRAFT); SPANISH-LANGUAGE PROGRAMMING; CHILDRENS¡¯ NETWORKS; MOVIES AND BROADCAST PROGRAMS AIRING PREDOMINANTLY IN SUMMER 2020 (E.G., AGT, BIG BROTHER, LOVE ISLAND).

¡¡¡¡THE MOST-WATCHED BROADCAST NETWORKS OF 2020-20201 (BY TOTAL VIEWERS)

¡¡¡¡CBS (6,202,000; down 18%) NBC (5,236,000; down 19%) ABC (4,639,000; down 14%) Fox (4,174,000; down 33%) Univision (1,333,000; down 9%) Ion (1,068,000; down 17%) Telemundo (1,030,000; down 6%) The CW (834,000; down 20%) Me TV (761,000; up 2%) Unimas (527,000; up 2%)

¡¡¡¡THE TOP-RATED BROADCAST NETWORKS OF 2020-2021 (BY ADULTS 18-49)

¡¡¡¡1. Fox (1,367,000; down 37%)

¡¡¡¡2. NBC (1,312,000; down 22%)

¡¡¡¡3. CBS (1,240,000; down 7%)

¡¡¡¡4. ABC (1,173,000; down 17%)

¡¡¡¡5. Univision (505,000; down 17%)

¡¡¡¡6. Telemundo (396,000; down 18%)

¡¡¡¡7. Ion (244,000; down 30%)

¡¡¡¡8. The CW (239,000; down 39%)

¡¡¡¡9.Unimas (237,000; down 6%)

¡¡¡¡10. Me TV (79,000; up 5%)

¡¡¡¡What to eat. What to watch. What you need to live your best life … now. Sign up for our Eat. Watch. Do. newsletter here.