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The most-popular reality TV shows of 2017

The most-popular reality TV shows of 2017
The judges (Simon Cowell, Mel B, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandell), host (Tyra Banks), and winner (Darci Lynne) of America's Got Talent season 12, which was the most-popular reality TV show in 2017. (Photo by Trae Patton, NBC)

Of the top 400 shows to air on television last year, 188 of them were reality TV. Leading the pack once again were NBC’s America’s Got Talent, with The Bachelor leapfrogging over The Voice and the no-longer-airing American Idol to take the number-two spot.

I analyzed and filtered the top 400 scripted and reality shows that aired last year, using Nielsen ratings data provided to TV critics by FX Networks Research.

That list ranked all 1,354 television shows based on their live + 7, 18-49 ratings—i.e. how many people ages 18 to 49 watched within seven days of a live broadcast.

The full list is below. First, a few observations:

  • Unlike last year, Big Brother is now more popular than Survivor—but just barely. The difference in the 18-49 rating was .01—Big Brother had a 2.46 while Survivor had a 2.45—and about 4,000 total viewers.
  • The highest rated cable reality series is Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, followed by Love & Hip Hop.
  • NBC reality TV continues to dominate, with its reality shows constituting five of the top-20 shows on television.
  • CBS’ Hunted, which failed to become a hit or earn a renewal, was more highly rated than Bachelor in Paradise and Dancing with the Stars, which illustrates how overall ranking matters less to networks than performance in their timeslots, days, and/or seasons.
  • Here’s the list of most-popular reality TV shows of 2016 for comparison.

The 188 most-popular reality shows of 2017

These are the most-popular reality TV shows across broadcast and cable television last year, ranked according to viewers ages 18 to 49.

Some important notes and caveats:

  • These are live + 7 ratings, meaning they include all viewers who watched that show within seven days, but not
  • The shows are ranked according to their viewers ages 18 to 49, the demographic that is the most commonly valued. However, some networks, particularly those on cable, may target more specific demographics, such as women ages 25 to 54. In other words, the show’s overall ranking here might not matter that much to the network, as shows might rank very differently in different demos.
  • Many shows are on the list more than once, because their network told Nielsen to list seasons, episodes, and/or specials as separate shows.
  • This list excludes scripted shows, of course, hence the gaps in numbers.

7. America’s Got Talent (Tuesday), NBC

12. The Bachelor, ABC

13. America’s Got Talent (Wednesday), NBC

14. The Voice (Monday), NBC

16. World of Dance, NBC

17. The Voice (Tuesday), NBC

18. Big Brother (Wednesday), CBS

19. Big Brother (Thursday), CBS

20. Big Brother (Sunday), CBS

21. Survivor, CBS

27. The Bachelorette, ABC

38. Hunted, CBS

40. Bachelor in Paradise, ABC

43. Love and Hip Hop Atlanta 6, VH1

47. Dancing with the Stars, ABC

61. Bachelor in Paradise (Tuesday), ABC

63. American Ninja Warrior, NBC

64. Love and Hip Hop 7, VH1

72. Little Big Shots, NBC

75. Masterchef (Wednesday), Fox

78. Shark Tank, ABC

83. Masterchef, Fox

87. Teen Mom II (season 7B), MTV

90. The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Bravo

91. Love and Hip Hop: Hollywood, VH1

94. Gold Rush, Discovery

96. Teen Mom II (season 8), MTV

97. Amazing Race, CBS

98. Celebrity Family Feud, ABC

99. Masterchef Junior, Fox

105. Hell’s Kitchen, Fox

107. Casey Anthony: An American Murder Mystery, ID

108. The Wall, NBC

111. Street Outlaws, Discovery

112. Teen Mom (season 7), MTV

118. The Apprentice, NBC

119. Basketball Wives 6, VH1

121. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Bravo

122. Love and Hip Hop (season 8), VH1

123. Teen Mom (season 6B)

127. The Curse of Oak Island, History

129. Shark Tank (Sundays at 10), ABC

133. Spartan: Team Challenge, NBC

135. The Real Housewives of Orange County, Bravo

152. Vanderpump Rules, Bravo

156. Match Game, ABC

157. Fixer Upper, HGTV

158. Love and Hip Hop Atlanta (specials), VH1

159. Undercover Boss, CBS

161. Hollywood Game Night, NBC

163. America’s Funniest Home Videos, ABC

164. Keeping Up with the Kardashians, E!

165. T.I. and Tiny, VH1

167 (tie). Leave it to Stevie, VH1

167 (tie). Beat Shazam, Fox

170. To Tell the Truth, ABC

173. Black Ink Crew (season 6), VH1

174. Chrisley Knows Best, USA

176. Real Housewives of New York City, Bravo

179. Little Big Shots: Forever Young, NBC

181. So You Think You Can Dance, Fox

182. Black Ink Crew (season 5), VH1

184. Real Housewives of New Jersey, Bravo

189. Fast ‘n’ Loud, Discovery

190. Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, A&E

195. Impractical Jokers, truTV

197. Hip Hop Squares, VH1

198. The Challenge: Dirty 30, MTV

199. Below Deck, Bravo

200. My Kitchen Rules, Fox

202. The $100,000 Pyramid, ABC

203. Steve Harvey’s Funderdome, ABC

205. To Tell the Truth, ABC

206. Naked and Afraid XL, Discovery

207. Alaskan Bush People, Discovery

208. K Michelle: My Life (season 3), VH1

209. First Dates, NBC

210. Project Runway, Bravo

211. Diesel Brothers, Discovery

212. Ink Master, Spike

214. Worst Cooks in America (season 10), Food Network

216. Xscape: Still Kickin’ It, Bravo

217. Sister Wives, TLC

218. Below Deck: Mediterranean, Bravo

220. Top Chef, Bravo

221 (tie). Real Housewives of Potomac, Bravo

221 (tie). Deadliest Catch, Discovery

223. Battle of the Network Stars, ABC

226. Southern Charm, Bravo

227. Love Connection, ABC

228. Street Outlaws SPC, Discovery

230. The Challenge: Invasion, MTV

233. Mama June: From Hot to Not, WE tv

234. Naked and Afraid, Discovery

235. The F Word, Fox

236. The Gong Show, ABC

238. 90 Day Fiance, TLC

241. Floribama Shore, MTV

241. Black Ink Crew: Chicago, VH1

244. Forged in Fire, History

248. 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days, TLC

249. Fast ‘N’ Loud SPC, Discovery

251. The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars, MTV

252. Halloween Wars, Food Network

259. Food Network Star (season 13), Food Network

260 (tie). To Tell the Truth (Wednesdays at 10), ABC

260 (tie). Moonshiners, Discovery

262. Shahs of Sunset, Bravo

263. 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After, TLC

264. The Toy Box, ABC

267. Iron Chef Gauntlet, Food Network

270. Catfish (season 6B), MTV

272. Alone, History

273. Holiday Baking Championship (season 4), Food Network

275. Gold Rush: Special, Discovery

277. Scared Famous, VH1

278 (tie). Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail, Discovery

278 (tie). Kicking & Screaming, Fox

281. Sister Wives Tell All, TLC

283. Are You The One? (season 5), MTV

284. Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, VH1

287. 60 Days In, A&E

288. Superhuman, Fox

289. Catfish (season 6), MTV

290. Candy Crush, CBS

292. Hip Hop Squares (season 1B), VH1

294. The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros, MTV

295. Street Outlaws: NOLA, Discovery

297. Flip or Flop, HGTV

299. 90 Day Fiance: What Now, TLC

301. Life of Kylie, E!

302 (tie). Boy Band, ABC

302 (tie). Married to Medicine, Bravo

305. Little Women Atlanta, Lifetime

307 (tie). Worst Cooks in America (season 11), Food Network

307 (tie). Swamp People, History

310. My 600-LB Life, TLC

314. The Rap Game, Lifetime

315. Alaskan Bush People SPC, Discovery

316. Flipping Out, Bravo

317. Live PD, A&E

318. America’s Next Top Model (season 23), VH1

319. Halloween Baking Championship (season 3), Food Network

321. Siesta Key, MTV

322. Is OJ Innocent: The Missing Evidence, ID

324 (tie). The Murder of Lacy Peterson, A&E

324 (tie). Little Women: LA, Lifetime

328. Little People, Big World, TLC

330. Duck Dynasty, A&E

331. Are You The One (season 6), MTV

332. The Real Housewives of Dallas, Bravo

334. RuPaul’s Drag Race (season 9), VH1

335. Alaska: The Last Frontier, Discovery

339. Counting On, TLC

340. American Grit, Fox

341. Killing Fields Special, Discovery

344. Million Dollar Listing: NY, Bravo

345. Bring It!, Lifetime

348. Outdaughtered, TLC

349. Married At First Sight, Lifetime

350. Killing Fields, Discovery

352. Diesel Brothers SPC, Discovery

353. Summer House, Bravo

354. Swamp People FL, History

354. Spring Baking Championship (season 3), Food Network

357 (tie). Kids Baking Championship (season 3), Food Network

357 (tie). Lip Sync Battle, Spike

362. The Wheel, Discovery

369 (tie). American Ripper, History

369 (tie). Braxton Family Values, WE tv

372. Face Off, Syfy

373. Great Food Truck Race (season 8), Food Network

379. Don’t Be Tardy, Bravo

381. Naked and Afraid XL SPC, Discovery

382. Teen Mum, MTV

382 (tie). Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party (season 2), VH1

382 (tie). Dance Moms, Lifetime

385. Fear Factor, MTV

388. Bering Sea Gold, Discovery

389. Brother vs. Brother, HGTV

391. Finding Escobar’s Millions, Discovery

394. Total Divas, E!

395. The Hunt For The Zodiac Killer, History

396. Little Women: LA: Couples Retreat, Lifetime

396. Garage Rehab, Discovery

398. Million Dollar Listing: LA, Bravo

399. Cooper’s Treasure, Discovery

400. Hard Knocks: Tampa Bay, HBO

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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