9 of top 10 summer shows: reality TV

All four broadcast networks have a top-10 show thanks to reality

Reality TV is dominating on broadcast networks this summer, despite the presence of several high-profile scripted series.

Last week, nine of the 10 most highly rated broadcast network telecasts among adults 18 to 49 were reality TV shows, which also comprised 13 of the top 25 programs for the week. Looking at overall ratings, four of the top 10, and 10 of the top 25, were reality TV.

Those shows: America’s Got Talent (#1, 2), Big Brother (#3, 4, 5), Masterchef (#6), American Ninja Warrior (#7), The Bachelorette (#9), Hell’s Kitchen (#10), Hotel Hell (#12), Hollywood Game Night (#20), So You Think You Can Dance (#21), and Last Comic Standing (#22),

Of note is that all of those are returning shows, though Last Comic isn’t exactly a new series; ABC’s high-profile Rising Star isn’t in the top 25 and comes in third in its Sunday night timeslot.

Meanwhile, on cable, where a ton of new shows debuted this summer, just three of the top 25 series were reality TV last week: Love & Hip Hop Atlanta (#9), Pawn Stars (#10), and Mountain Men (#17).

These numbers only include DVR usage on the same day a show was broadcast, nor online viewing. Ratings may have increased, particularly for scripted shows, especially if people watched reality TV live.

Still, this illustrates how important reality TV is in the summer to the broadcast networks, all of which have a top-10 series right now thanks to reality TV. While the hours of reality TV broadcast on networks has waned during the regular TV season, at least from the let’s-copy-Survivor/American Idol days, summer is still all about reality television.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.