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The 2023-24 television season was blown up before it even began. Two strikes and the refusal of media companies to give in to writers’ and actors’ demands wiped out a few dozen fall premieres of scripted shows on the broadcast networks. When management agreed to new terms with the writers and actors (and largely accepted the demands of the two unions), it meant shortened seasons for nearly all returning comedies and dramas.

However, one thing remained constant compared to previous years: the vast majority of the shows on the five English-language channels had lower ratings than in the previous season.

Of the 143 primetime series with complete data for the September-May television season, only 11 drew larger total audiences than in the 2022-23 season, based on Nielsen’s seven-day ratings for 2023-24. Only five shows drew better ratings in the key advertising demographic of 18-49 year-olds than they did last season.

(Full seven-day ratings for several series on The CW — 100 Days to Indy, Crime Nation, Hostage Rescue, Lovers and Liars, Patti Stanger: The Matchmaker, Police 24/7, Sight Unseen, Totally Funny Animals And Totally funny kids — were unavailable. They are not included in the charts below, but would likely end up near the bottom of the rankings based on their same-day numbers.)

As usual — that is, in eight of the last nine seasons — Football on Sunday evening led all broadcasts in both total viewers (19.73 million, the largest audience since 2019-20) and adults 18-49 (5.31 rating, equivalent to 6.98 million people in that demo). The weekly NFL show improved by about 8 percent in both measures from the previous season. Monday Night Football on ABC came in second in both — the network aired a full slate of games, compared to just a handful in fall 2022, and averaged just under 12 million viewers and a 2.57 rating in the 18-49 demo. (The MNF Figures are for broadcast only and do not include viewers who watched simulcasts on ESPN.)

by CBS tracker was the most-watched series after the two NFL games. The first-year drama starring Justin Hartley averaged 10.84 million viewers, maintaining momentum after a post-Super Bowl premiere (not included in the series’ season average because the episode aired outside of primetime). It finished ninth among 18-49s with a 0.8 rating.

Survivors was the most popular non-football broadcast among 18-49 year olds — and the only one to pull in a rating above 1.0 — with a 1.06 rating, which translates to about 1.4 million viewers in that age group. Longtime rival CBS gained slightly in the 2022-23 demo.

Nielsen’s ratings do not take into account streaming, which accounts for a significant portion of the seven-day audience for most shows. In the week following an episode’s debut, as many as 40 to 50 percent of viewers of a network-wide scripted series now watch on streaming platforms, most of whose data is hidden from the public.

Below are the full season rankings based on live and seven-day Nielsen ratings from September 25, 2023 through May 26, 2024, along with comparisons to last season where applicable. Click the arrow in the upper right of each table to see more entries.

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