Unless tonight’s airing of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer gets unexpectedly massive numbers, the most-watched program of the 2010s will be Super Bowl XLIX (Patriots vs. Seahawks, 114.44 million viewers), followed by Super Bowl XLVIII (Seahawks vs. Broncos, 112.19), Super Bowl 50 (Broncos vs. Panthers, 111.86), Super Bowl XLVI (Giants vs. Patriots, 111.35), Super Bowl… you get the idea. In fact, all 10 of the decade’s most-watched programs are Super Bowls. The first non-football entry is the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on September 26, 2016, followed by more politics and more sports, mostly NFL playoff games, and various awards shows, including the 2014 Oscars (43.63) and 2012 Grammy Awards (39.91).
You have to go all the way down to #40 to find the most-watched series telecast of the 2010s. Not the show with the best overall ratings, mind you, but the single episode with the highest number of viewers. It’s not American Idol or The Big Bang Theory or The Voice. It’s… Undercover Boss? As the Hollywood Reporter notes, “Six of the 27 entertainment shows on the list got there by virtue of airing after the Super Bowl,” considered a golden slot for networks to air highly-anticipated episodes, like Prince on New Girl, or premiere a new series, which is what CBS did with Undercover Boss on February 7, 2010 (following the Saints beating Peyton Manning’s Colts). I’m sure all you Boss-heads out there know this already, but that’s the episode where Lawrence O’Donnell III, the President and COO of Waste Management, cleaned porta-potties and picked up garbage with his underpaid employees; the Hooters episode was a week later.
Here are the 10 highest series broadcasts of the decade.
Undercover Boss (CBS), Feb. 7, 2010: 38.66 million viewers
The Voice (NBC), Feb. 5, 2012: 37.61 million
American Idol (Fox), Jan. 12, 2010: 29.95 million
American Idol, May 25, 2011: 29.25 million
Two and a Half Men (CBS), Sept. 19, 2011: 28.74 million
American Idol, Feb. 9, 2010: 27.91 million
This Is Us (NBC), Feb. 4, 2018: 26.99 million
American Idol, Jan. 20, 2010: 26.86 million
Glee (Fox), Feb. 6, 2011: 26.81 million
American Idol, Jan. 13, 2010: 26.42 million
People really loved American Idol (and, uh, Two and a Half Men). Team Clay, forever.
(Via the Hollywood Reporter)